Fares price war good news for travellers

CUT RATE: Mango, left, and Flysafair aircraft await take-off. Both airlines are offering cheaper tickets as a result of lower oil prices
CUT RATE: Mango, left, and Flysafair aircraft await take-off. Both airlines are offering cheaper tickets as a result of lower oil prices

BUDGET airline carriers are engaged in a price war which means cheaper tickets for passengers – so long as they keep careful track of the specials on offer.

Barely a week after low-cost carrier FlySafair announced it would reduce prices on all its routes until July this year, rival Mango Airlines said it would reduce its fares, citing the recent drop in the dollar oil price.

Travellers can expect to pay much lower fares on one-way flights between Port Elizabeth and Johannesburg or Cape Town.

However, prices fluctuate constantly due to availability and demand, while there are also conditions pertaining to checked-in and hand baggage on some flights.

“Competition between airline companies is fierce for sure, but the ability to drop your prices and still see profit is entirely dependent on the strategic decisions you take when running your business,” FlySafair marketing vice- president Kirby Gordon said.

Mango spokesman Hein Kaiser says the weakened rand has in a way cancelled out the benefit of the lower oil price.

“Mango has substantially lowered some of its fares in order to pass on the benefit of fuel savings to travellers.”

He said Mango did not expect the oil price to stay the same for a long period of time.

“We will continue to review its pricing to ensure that consumers enjoy low airfares.”

Special prices are subject to change as the number of tickets sold determines whether or not the price will fluctuate. The low prices on all tickets depends on availability and also the demand for a particular flight.

The drop in aviation fuel is the reason why most carriers operating in and out of Port Elizabeth have dropped their airfares. “Recently the oil price took a pretty steep nose dive, and we enjoyed this – motorists benefited from petrol price cuts and airlines saw the same sorts of cuts in the price of aviation fuel,” Gordon said.

“FlySafair effectively dropped its prices when the oil price went down because we have made a promise to South Africa that we would always offer the most affordable fares we could,” he said. “Some of our competitors did respond to that by dropping some of their prices too, but we feel confident we were able to offer the market a truly excellent deal across our routes.”

British Airways and Kulula.com both operate under the Comair banner.

Comair corporate communications manager Susan van der Ryst said: “Comair’s fuel bill equates to 30% of its costs. The main pricing considerations for Comair are the instability of the dollar oil price and 48% of our costs are dollar based.

“The recent drop in the dollar oil price was largely offset by the 18% devaluation of the rand, resulting in rand jet fuel that remains around R7.50 per litre,” she said.

“This is only a reduction of 3% of total airline costs, bringing South African airlines closer to recovering from the massive fuel price increase since 2010.”

SA’s main airline carrier South African Airways operates both SA Express and SA Airlink.

SAA spokesperson Tladi Tladi said: “While the fuel price has increased almost 50% over the past few years, flight prices have not due to competition.”

A RANDOM search on the websites of FlySafair, Mango, British Airways (Comair) and SAA for the Port Elizabeth to Johannesburg or PE to Cape Town routes for Tuesday March 10 offered the following fares yesterday morning:

  • FlySafair: PE to JHB: R598 PE to CT: R598.95
  • Mango: PE to JHB: R742 PE to CT: R593
  • British Airways: PE to JHB: R923 PE to CT: R667
  • SAA: PE to JHB: R1 080.79 PE to CT: R1 297.39

-Caz-lynn Human and Amir Chetty

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