Daily News  :: Southern Africa


South Africa's new low-cost carrier launches

Published: 30-OCT-06

Johannesburg - Flights between Johannesburg and Cape Town will cost about R200 (about $25) until the end of December onboard South Africa's new domestic airline, Mango, it was announced in Johannesburg on Monday.

"We are getting South Africans to travel," said Mango's newly-appointed CEO officer Nico Bezuidenhout.

He said online ticket bookings would open at midnight on www.flymango.com and telephone bookings at 05:30 on Tuesday on 08611-Mango.

The airline's first flight would be on November 15.

Bezuidenhout expected ticket prices later on to remain 20 percent lower than anything else on the market, although South Africa�s other low-cost airlines have indicated that they might undercut Mango�s entry prices.

Mango was also looking at creative ways for people to pay for tickets � including via retail clothing or food companies. Those details would be made known in a few weeks.

He said the airline was leasing two Boeing 737 800s from South African Airways at the moment.

Its fleet would expand to four aircraft by December, when the carrier hoped to be operating 28 flights a day between Johannesburg and Cape Town.

It planned to extend its service to flights between Durban and Bloemfontein, and Bloemfontein and Cape Town by later next year.

"If consumer demand exists, we will expand these routes," said Bezuidenhout, who brings to the operating his ticketing experience gleaned at SAA, as chief operating officer at Ticketweb, and as a director of Africa Concession Management. Not too long ago, SAA stopped flying to George as increased competition on the route squeezed its margins.

He said Mango's aircraft would put in 12-and-a-half hours flying time a day, carrying 186 passengers at a time � substantially more than its competitors.

They have cried foul, complaining that Mango � run by a subsidiary of SAA � was unfair competition and that SA Express is supposed to be SAA's low-cost carrier.

However, Mango's new board stressed that it complied with competition regulations and questioned detractors' "motivation".

Mango would provide a travel opportunity for many South Africans who had never flown before, Bezuidenhout said.

He said that even though the aircraft would be putting in long hours, they were "new generation"; safe and reliable.

They would be flown by pilots with on average 15 years' experience and maintained by SAA's technical services.

"At no point in time will (we) compromise safety," he said.

Although the high flying times would contribute to cost savings, Mango would operate far cheaper primarily because the aircraft being used were ten percent more fuel efficient that the others in use and because of the higher seat density.

Snacks and drinks would be for sale on board and excess baggage, billable.

Bezuidenhout would not go into detail about Mango's lease agreement with SAA, but said it was based on "market rates", as was the provision of technical services.

He said Mango was an independent company. The extent of SAA's involvement was a R100m ($13.5mn) shareholders' loan. -Sapa

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