Friday, October 14, 2011

South African Airways capitalises on AirZim’s woes

South African Airways has increased its seating capacity on the Johannesburg-Harare route through the introduction of the Airbus 330-200. SAA, which recently reduced its airfares for eight destinations, including the Harare Johannesburg route as a way of consolidating its market share in Zimbabwe, is one of the biggest beneficiaries of the operational problems at Air Zimbabwe.

At the launch of the A330-200 at Harare International Airport yesterday, SAA country manager for Zimbabwe Winnie Mudariki said there had been great demand on the Harare-Johannesburg route and the new aircraft will provide efficiencies to support the airline’s profitability and growth strategies.

She said the new airbus has a seating capacity of 253 passengers compared to 157 on the A 319. The new plane seats 36 passengers in business class and 186 in economy.

SAA flights have now increased to 21 a week from 14, while flights on the Victoria Falls route were 7 weekly.
Director of transport in the Ministry of Transport and Communications, Allowance Sango, concurred with Mudariki that there had been a gradual increase in demand on the route.

He noted that last year, SAA seats had started off at 3 920 per week, risen to 4 390 and ended the year in December at 5 264. This year, seats had increased to 5 394.  Demand on the Vic Falls route had also increased to 1 680 seats from December’s 1 162.  

The move to introduce the larger airbus comes after a number of airlines have expressed interest to service the Zimbabwe route.  Emirates airline, which will ply the Zimbabwe-Zambia-Dubai route next year, will also operate an A330-200 aircraft.

South Africa’s ambassador to Zimbabwe Vusi Mavimbela acknowledged the competitiveness of the environment but said that the launch indicates that SAA is riding the storm of the economic crisis when other airlines are cutting back. 

He said that Zimbabwe will play a crucial role in the development of the region in future, and as such, its transport infrastructure needed to improve.