There are a couple of flight bargains on SAA - but its tickets remain much more expensive on the whole

Business Insider SA
(Facebook, SAA)
(Facebook, SAA)
  • Business Insider South Africa compared some of SAA’s cheapest economy flights, and found a number that were cheaper than, British Airways and even FlySafair. 
  • Overall, however, SAA flights remained more expensive than it’s low-cost competitors. 
  • A travel agent said SAA’s prices are lower than a year ago, and reflects fewer bookings taking place than a year ago.
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A number of South African Airways (SAA) flights between Johannesburg and Cape Town appear cheaper than its low-cost competitors, but remain more expensive overall.

The embattled state-owned airline entered business rescue in December after consecutive years of state bailouts, and mounting debt. 

Since then, several routes have been cancelled or consolidated in a bid to reduce expenses and improve the airline’s liquidity. 

Business Insider compared some of SAA’s cheapest economy-class flight tickets to that of competitors at similar flight times, and found a number where SAA was cheaper than both domestic British Airways flights and low-cost carrier 

When Discovery Bank’s up to 35% flight discount is included for domestic British Airways and flights, SAA remained the cheapest. 

In two instances, SAA was even cheaper than FlySafair, often considered the cheapest airline in South Africa. 

SAA offers economy passengers meals on board, while FlySafair and doesn’t. FlySafair’s base fair also does not include luggage. 

Therefore, there were a couple of flights where someone considering a FlySafair flight can pay roughly R100 more for an SAA flight and get free luggage and meals on board. 

Overall, SAA flight prices between Cape Town and Johannesburg, however, remained above the R2,000 region, in line with what British Airways would’ve charged, and more expensive than and FlySafair.

Also read: With SAA at death's door - here's how FlySafair became the biggest domestic airline in six years

Pentravel Rosebank travel agent Pierre Scharneck said flight ticket prices are highly volatile, and SAA’s cheaper prices reflect a higher number of seats available on the flights, and not necessarily a discount offered. 

He said the fewer bookings there are onboard a flight, the more likely the flight tickets would be cheaper. 

Scharneck said that he has noticed an SAA decline in prices compared to a year ago, as well as a number of international flights at bargain prices. 

“Consumers have been wary of booking flights on SAA, especially since last year December as the news around its financial crisis spread,” Scharneck told Business Insider South Africa. 

“SAA doesn’t typically compete on the terms of price as it has onboard add-ons such as meals, but since there are lower bookings, we have started seeing it competing with low-cost airlines in terms of price.”

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