Travel

FlySafair is spreading its wings to the rest of Africa – with flights for Kenya, Zambia and more

Business Insider SA
(Photo by Gallo Images/Jacques Stander)
(Photo by Gallo Images/Jacques Stander)
  • Low-cost airline FlySafair launched its first route outside of South Africa in March, with flights between Johannesburg and Mauritius.
  • Now, amid severe volatility in South Africa's aviation sector due to Comair's exit, FlySafair is looking for a foothold in the regional space.
  • The airline has applied for flights to Zanzibar, Maputo, Lusaka, Livingstone, Gaborone, Seychelles, Victoria Falls, Bulawayo, Nairobi, and Luanda.
  • It also wants to fly more frequently to Mauritius.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

Low-cost carrier FlySafair is looking to expand beyond South Africa's borders, with flights planned for 10 new destinations on the continent.

Since first taking to the skies eight years ago, FlySafair has focused all its energy on South Africa's domestic market. During that time, South Africa's turbulent aviation sector has undergone massive changes, none so serious as the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on travel.

While international carriers have been hardest hit by Covid-19, domestic carriers have suffered too, with passenger volumes still nowhere near levels recorded prior to the pandemic.

For airlines that entered the pandemic in an uneasy financial position, Covid-19 has proven to be the death knell. Comair, owner of Kulula and British Airways' local routes, having operated in South Africa since 1946, recently applied for liquidation amid a severe cash crunch.

Others, though, have weathered the storm, exiting the post-lockdown starting blocks at pace, now with even more urgency to fill the capacity gap left by Comair's exit.

See also | CemAir took a gamble on one more upset in SA aviation after lockdown – and now it's paying off

FlySafair, although already holding the lion's share of domestic seat capacity, according to data from the Centre for Aviation, has set its sights on the regional market. The low-cost carrier's first journey beyond South Africa only launched in March, with twice-weekly flights from Johannesburg's OR Tambo International Airport to the popular holiday destination of Mauritius.

Now, FlySafair wants to start flying to Zanzibar, Maputo, Lusaka, Livingstone, Gaborone, Seychelles, Victoria Falls, Bulawayo, Nairobi, and Luanda. The airline also wants to fly more frequently to Mauritius, according to a recently published Government Gazette referring to applications with South Africa's International Air Services Council.

"In this most recent gazette, we've made application for some additional frequencies on that [Mauritius] route along with a number of other regional routes," Kirby Gordon, FlySafair's chief marketing officer, told Business Insider South Africa.

"The massive flux in the industry has been devastating, but with change often comes opportunity, and we've been working to take advantage of opportunities where they've presented themselves."

To capitalise on the expected post-pandemic travel boom and carve out an even more significant portion of the aviation market, FlySafair is bringing additional aircraft online in July. Another three aircraft are due to fly before the end of the year, explained Gordon, which would likely be used to operate these new regional routes.

South Africa's embattled aviation sector has also been left in an uncomfortable limbo due to the vacant International Air Services Council, which, after a year-long lull, was only recently reinstated in March.

"Regional expansion has been an intention of ours for a while, but we've had to wait for the reappointment of the Air Services Licensing Council, which were appointed again on 10 March," said Gordon.

"Today's [Friday's] gazette is the result of our first applications to them shortly after that appointment."


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