Monthly Archives: July 2013

British Airways Flights from London to Johannesburg

A media function in Kent, in the United Kingdom, recently featured an announcement that there will be a new aircraft used for British Airways flights from London to Johannesburg as from 12 February 2014.

The function featured South African Sprinbok rugby giants Bryan Habana, Chris Robshaw and Jean De Villiers, who attempted to pull a British Airways Airbus A380, which will be used for the flights, down the runway. There was also a model, Georgia May Jagger, on hand to ensure that the men in the crowds had some eye candy.

Bookings are already open for British Airways flights from London to Johannesburg on the Airbus A380, and the flights on the aircraft will operate 3 flights per week, resulting in the frequency of British Airways’ flights to South Africa increasing significantly. There are plans for the Airbus A380′s flights on this route to be further increased to 6 flights per week from 10 March 2014.

Packages from SA to the Brazil 2014 World Cup

Packages from South Africa to Brazil 2014 World CupA number of travel operators and tour companies in South Africa are putting together tailor-made travel packages from SA to the Brazil 2014 World Cup. The event is taking place from 12 June 2014 until 13 July 2014, and is less than a year away.

However, one thing that travel operators are unable to offer with tours, is tickets to the actual world cup soccer matches, as these are only available to fans directly from FIFA through an application process.

The sale of tickets will commence on 20 August 2013, and there will be an element of luck with regard to which tickets will be allocated to different persons, and most people will not get all of their desired tickets given that only around 3.3 million tickets will be sold for the competition, and demand for the tickets will be high.

This is likely to make it difficult for travel companies to effectively plan and sell such packages, given that different fans will have different itinerary needs, and will only know close to the World Cup date, once the ticketing allocation is compplete, where they need to go.

It will therefore be necessary for most fans to make their own travel arrangements which are customised around their ticket allocations, and to make numerous bookings for domestic travel within Brazil in order to ensure that their trip is logistically in order.

There are twelve host cities in Brazil that will play host to World Cup matches. As a result, fans who are allocated tickets for various matches, will need to make transport arrangements within Brazil to get to the various host cities. Brazil is a huge country, and a domestic flight within Brazil can easily take up to 6 hours.

It is advisable for travellers to make their travel arrangements early, as demand will fuel extremely high prices, and there will be increased demand as the event grows closer.

Flights from Johannesburg to Swaziland

There are two airlines offering flights from Johannesburg to Swaziland, namely South African Airways and Airlink Swaziland.

Both airlines offer daily flights on the route, and both carriers offer four daily flights from Monday to Thursday, five daily flights on Friday and three daily flights over Saturdays and Sundays.

The flights on both routes depart from OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, and fly to Matsapa International Airport in Manzini, the economic capital of Swaziland.

The distance between Johannesburg and Manzini is around 300 kilometers, and a flight between the two cities only takes approximately 55 minutes.

There are no low cost airlines which offer flights from Johannesburg to Swaziland, and as a result, SAA and Airlink Swaziland are able to charge a premium for their flights.

Car hire can easily be booked at Matsapa International Airport if required, and there is no need to do exchange currency at a foreign exchange bureaux if you are travelling with South African Rands, as they can be used as legal tender anywhere in Swaziland. The Rand’s exchange rate to the Emalangeni is 1:1, so travellers with Rands are not at a disadvantage when using Rands.

2 Die in Lanseria Airport Plane Accident

Two people died last week in a Lanseria Airport plane accident, when a light aircraft with numerous occupants crashed near the airport last week Thursday.

Lanseria is a privately owned airport about 30 minutes’ drive out of Johannesburg, and is widely used by a number of local commercial aircraft as well as a number of privately owned aircraft. Commercial flights through Lanseria are often much more affordable than those through O R Tambo International Airport, given that Lanseria does not subject airlines to the same charges and taxes. This makes it attractive for the airport to be used by budget travellers.

However, the ability to use the Gautrain to O R Tambo International Airport, whereas public transport to Lanseria is not available, has resulted in more travellers using O R Tambo.

Details of the accident are unclear at this stage, and details have not been released regarding whether the plane was grounded while taking off or while landing. Airport officials will confirm details of the accident in due course, when it has been properly investigated.

Mango Airlines Becomes Environmentally Friendly

SAA’s low cost airline subsidiary Mango Airlines has announced plans to implement measures that will reduce its environmental impact and carbon footprint.

Measures include replacing the seating of all its aircraft with significantly lighter seats, which will reduce the overall weight of its planes and thus reduce their fuel consumption and environmental impact. This is set to reduce carbon emissions by nearly 2 million tonnes on 2014.

The airline has already reduced the weight of its planes by reducing the amount of water carried on flights, and also removing various unnecessary equipment such as unused ovens and water boilers.

In addition, when its planes are serviced, particular care is taken to ensure that they are as aerodynamic as possible, further reducing fuel consumption and carbon emissions.

The airlines is also searching for other areas in which it can implement measures to reduce carbon emissions.

Aside from being environmentally friendly, the measures make sense from a business perspective, as they will result in significant cost savings due to lower fuel usage. With the high oil price, this is particularly important and will certainly make an impact on the airline’s profitability.

Launch of Skywise Airline in South Africa

A new low cost airline is set to take off in our skies, with the launch of Skywise Airline in South Africa.

The core team behind Skywise Airline comprises of a number of previous 1time Airlines employees, including Rodney James, Michael Kaminsky and ex-CEO of 1time, Glenn Orsmond.

The first flight route to be launched will be the popular route for flights from Cape Town to Johannesburg, with Durban, Port Elizabeth and East London flights on the cards at a later stage.

The airline has already received an air service license, and is waiting regulatory approval which is expected to be granted shortly. The intended date for the commencement of Skywise flights is during the third quarter of 2013.

Hopefully Skywise’s personnel will not repeat the mistakes made by 1time, and will add some much-needed competition to the relatively small low cost airline market in South Africa, which is currently dominated by Mango and Kulula.com.

The Latest News about Kulula.com

Kulula Airlines, British Airways’ low cost subsidiary, has kept a relatively low profile of late, following complaints by SAA in March 2013 about the Kulula.com advertising campaign in which they claimed to “the most South African airways”.

SAA complained that this was clearly a reference to their airline, and as a result, Kulula.com changed all their adverts to use the word “airline” instead of “airways”, with the result being a tag-line which read “The most South African airline”.

SAA and Kulula.com are not direct competitors, given that SAA is a national and international carrier which does not operate in the low cost airline market, while Kulula.com is a no frills budget airline operating only locally and regionally. However, Mango, SAA’s low cost subsidiary, is a competitor of Kulula.com, and this may have prompted the complaints from SAA regarding the advertising campaign.

Kulula.com has become known to South Africans as a fun-loving, mischevious brand, with humourous advertising campaigns and in-flight jokes being the order of the day. In June 2013, the airline received the highest rating of any commercial airline in the South African customer satisfaction index – a clear indication that they are doing something right in the eyes of the South African public.

Mango Airlines Expands Offerings

SAA’s low cost airline division Mango Airlines is expanding its offerings in a move to consolidate its position as South Africa’s leading budget airline.

This includes increasing its flights from Lanseria to Cape Town International Airport from 33 to 43 flights per week, and applying for regulatory approval to launch three weekly scheduled flights from Johannesburg to Kilimanjaro and flights from Johannesburg to Zanzibar.

Before liquidation, 1time airlines was the only South African low cost airline to offer flights from Johannesburg to Zanzibar, and Mango has clearly seen the gap with 1time’s departure from the market, and are looking to capitalise on it by adding the route to their offerings.

Earlier this year, Mango Airlines launched a flight booking app for the Blackberry 10, as well as an app for the Apple iPhone and iPad. These moves have put Mango at the forefront of technological innovations in the South African aviation space, paving the way for the airline to appeal more successfully to the tech savvy youth market.

Ethiopian Airlines Dreamliner Fire

London’s Heathrow Airport was forced to close both of its runways for nearly two hours after an Ethiopian Airlines Dreamliner fire erupted in the engine of an aircraft which was parked at the airport.

The closure impacted on around 80 flights to and from the airport, which is one of Europe’s busiest airports.

Emergency personnel extinguished the blaze, and meanwhile, thousands of stranded passengers were forced to postpone their flights and find overnight accommodation.

The fire was detected when smoke was identified coming from the parked aircraft, and there have been no reported injuries.

Boeing has received a great deal of negative publicity due to their new Dreamliner aircraft catching fire, and their aircraft have been grounded for a number of months while the cause of the fault was being identified.

British Airways has ordered two dozen Boeing Dreamliner aircraft, while Virgin Atlantic has ordered 16 of the planes. Both airlines are awaiting delivery of the aircraft.

It will be important for Boeing to take urgent steps to address the issue and calm the fears of the numerous airlines which have ordered the luxurious aircraft.

Cheap Flights to Amsterdam

Amsterdam is an ever-popular holiday destination in Europe, and travellers from South Africa are often able to book cheap flights to Amsterdam on airlines including SAA and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.

Ticket prices often start from as little as R6 500.00 for a return journey, but it is advisable to book as early as possible in advance in order to take advantage of lower prices. As a general rule, airfares increase the closer one books to the desired date of departure.

Popular attractions in Amsterdam include the numerous museums, the colourful tulip gardens in spring, the annual Queen’s Day celebrations and, of course, the legalised activities that one cannot legally partake in elsewhere.

Travellers who are concerned about the language barrier need not worry, as most Dutch locals are fluent in English, and as a result, language will not prove a problem for Anglophone visitors.

One of the biggest challenges for South African travellers at the moment, is the exchange rate. Currently, the cost per Euro is at its highest level in years, which is prohibitive to many budget travellers.

However, with careful planning, even the tightest budget can be stretched to make for an enjoyable holiday in Amsterdam.