Lonrho Column


The financial woes of South African Airways and now the loss of 1time, are just further examples of why travel in Africa is even more precarious and challenging for both the industry and the traveller.  1time going into provisional liquidation in the same year that Velvet Sky was grounded, isn’t good news for the traveller.

Competition is healthy, particularly in the low-cost airline sector, as competition between carriers causes those airlines to work harder and be more innovative, as they compete to attract greater passenger numbers and strive to generate loyal travellers who change their behaviour to fly the carrier. 

For the sake of the South African traveller, we can only hope that someone within government is sufficiently curious to ask why? Why in a country with more than 50 million people and growing, an expanding middle class with the desire and need to travel, and a growing domestic economy, at a time when South African businesses are increasing their participation in other African markets, why aren’t South African-based airlines prospering? What could government stop or start doing to enable a successful airline industry? That’s a question I’d like to see answered, as currently, it’s only the consumer who is suffering.

There is some good news for travellers in Africa this month, with the announcement by fastjet that operations were on track to commence by the start of December. With three A319s, fastjet will initially fly the key business and leisure routes in Tanzania, with intentions of adding at least a further five A319s to its fleet within six months, and up to 15 aircraft within a year. Fastjet’s plan to extend its network to eight countries across Africa within three years is ambitious, but given how quickly its lowest fares sold out in the first week, all of us who travel regularly in Africa, must hope and pray that fastjet is successful. Certainly, its European-backed experience and expertise augur well for the future of the airline, and to have a viable low-cost carrier operating out of East Africa, can only be good for business travel on the continent.

See you in departures.

Ewan Cameron – CEO: Lonrho Hotels


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