Friday, August 31, 2012

South African Airways to increase flights to Zimbabwe!

South African Airways (SAA), a carrier owned by the government, said it wants to establish a hub in West Africa in partnership with a regional airline to help drive its planned expansion across the continent.
The airline plans to increase flights to Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Zambia and Ghana and may add trips to two or three more destinations in Africa in the year through March 2014, chief executive officer Siza Mzimela said in a presentation to lawmakers in Cape Town, on Wednesday.

“Ghana is the prime location for a potential joint venture,” Mzimela said. “We are currently in discussion with the government on this possibility.”

The development comes at a time when Zimbabwe has approached SAA to be the official carrier during the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) General Assembly
set for next year, as the troubled national airliner Air Zimbabwe remains grounded.

SAA now flies to 21 African destinations outside its home market, carrying an average of 4 600 passengers a day, according to the company.

According to the Tourism and Trends Statistic report for 2011 SAA, Kenyan and Ethiopian Airways had taken advantage of challenges besetting the local airline to increase their market share.

SAA last year increased its market share to 39% from 28% in 2010 while that of Kenya Airways rose to 9% from 8%.

The airline has since added an airbus to the Harare-Johannesburg route. The airline is currently servicing 18 flights per week to Zimbabwe.

A hub in West Africa would make it easier for travelers to fly to Johannesburg and connect with flights to South America, Asia and Australia.

Mango, SAA’s low-cost carrier, or SA Express, another state-owned carrier, are the preferred brand for the new venture, while SAA’s cargo, technical and catering units could provide support services, Mzimela said.

SAA has increased its carrying capacity in Africa by about a third over the past two years, making it the continent’s largest carrier after EgyptAir, Royal Air Maroc, Ethiopian Airlines and Air France-KLM.

Together SAA and Mango operate 53 passenger planes.

SAA has ordered 20 new A320 and A321 Airbus SAS planes, and expects to take delivery between next year and 2017.