Monthly Archives: August 2013

SA Airlink Flights to Kruger National Park

It will soon be possible to book SA Airlink flights to Kruger National Park, with the airline’s upcoming launch of flights to Skukuza Airport which will become operational as from March 2014.

SA Airlink is a part-owner of Skukuza Airport, together with Lion Sands and Federal Air. As a result, it is likely that the route will not be open to other airlines, which will allow SA Airlink to enjoy a monopoly over the route. This could potentially result in passengers paying higher prices for airfares.

SA Airlink flights to Kruger National Park will run on a daily basis from OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, and Lion Sands will operate hospitality and retail services. Federal Air will operate chartered flights from the airport, and will therefore not be operating in competition with SA Airlink.

SA Airlink will also offer flights from Cape Town International Airport to Kruger National Park, with the addition of flights from Durban’s King Shaka International Airport planned at a later stage.

The development of Skukuza Airport will remove the need for travellers to fly to Nelspruit in order to get to the Kruger National Park, given that Nelspruit is currently the closest airport which is accessible on scheduled commercial flights in the area.

Mango Flights from Johannesburg to George

Bookings are now open for Mango flights from Johannesburg to George, a newly launched route for the low cost subsidiary of SAA. The George flight route are also available on Kulula.com and South African Express, and given the limited number of carriers operating on this route, flights on the route have historically been relatively expensive compared to routes where there is more competition among airlines.

The introduction of a regular flight route to George on Mango, may help to push down prices.

Mango flights to George depart from OR Tambo International Airport, and there are currently no flights to George operating from Lanseria Airport. Bookings can be made for flights departing on any date from 18 November 2013, and the launch of the George route follows Mango’s recent addition of a route for flights from Johannesburg to Port Elizabeth and flights from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth which has proved a success for the airline.

South Africa’s weird and wonderful adventures

For a variety of reasons South Africa has an extensive list of interesting adventures to choose from. On the cover of Dirty Boots, an adventure guide book for South Africa, it says over 100 adventures. When you first notice this you presume they mean over 100 different adventure companies but page to the activity index at the back of the book and start counting and too your surprise there really is more than a 100 different adventure activities to choose from.

The reasons behind this variety of activities lie mostly in South Africa’s varied geography, from mountains to oceans, deserts to thick forests and magnificent rivers and lagoons. The landscape creates an awesome playground for any keen adventurer. Another factor is the weather, think about it, if the Cape did not have the great summer winds would we have all the wind driven sports to choose from; Kitesurfing, windsurfing, sailing and blokart sailing.
What sets us apart from many other countries is the fact that we have real accessible wildlife so we can add activities to our list such as foot safaris, rhino tracking, elephant-back safaris and horse safaris.

Then there are activities that you would never expect to even find in South Africa, the one that stands out for me, is ice climbing. In the Drakensberg mountains during the winter it gets cold enough for some of the higher altitude waterfalls to freeze and there you are, you have a venue for ice climbing.

One of my favorite activities which is very unique to Cape Town, is a tour of the old underground water tunnels that use to take water from Table Mountain to the Castle, the activity is called below the surface, a great adventure for all ages with a historical and environmental significance.

So if you are looking for something interesting to do this weekend, go and browse the Dirty Boots website and I will guarantee you, that you will find an adventure that will fit your needs.

Skywise Cheap Flights from Johannesburg to Cape Town

Skywise Airline, which will be launched shortly by the founders of 1time Airlines, has suggested that it will offer ticket prices for Skywise cheap flights from Johannesburg to Cape Town for around 25% less than its low cost airline competitors such as Kulula.com and Mango Airlines.

Cheap return flights from Johannesburg to Cape Town currently cost between R1800 and R2200, and a 25% reduction would place ticket costs for a return journey in the region of R1500 (i.e. around R750 each way).

Following the departure of 1time from the local low cost carrier market, the remaining no-frills airlines had less competition and were therefore able to charge higher prices, resulting in customers being required to pay more for their domestic flights.

The addition of Skywise to the range of options for South African local travellers will introduce competition which will ultimately benefit consumers, by forcing airlines to vie for business instead of comfortably enjoying the monopoly and putting pressure on passengers through high airfare costs.

More Problems with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Boeing was one the luxury aircraft brand of choice of many airlines worldwide. However, the aircraft company has been experiencing a number of problems with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, its flagship aircraft, which have sullied the company’s reputation and allowed its major competitor, Airbus, to take a large chunk of Boeing’s market share.

The problems began with reports of fires breaking out on brand new Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft, which were suspected to have been caused by faulty batteries. As a consequence, many Boeing 787 Dreamliners were not allowed to be flown which an investigation into the problem was being undertaken.

The latest problem identified with the aircraft, is related to its fire extinguisher system, after a wiring defect was discovered in the fire extinguisher systems on three Boeing 787′s operated by Japanese airline All Nippon Airways.

This is obviously particularly concerning, given that there is now a fault which causes fires to erupt, and another fault which may undermine the ability to extinguish such fires.

The aircraft manufacturer has undertaken to investigate the matter and to take steps to resolve it, but the damage may already be done in the sense that the issue is likely to have placed another nail in Boeing’s coffin, and will make it more difficult for the company to salvage its reputation and regain lost market share.

Tourist Death in Venice Gondola Accident

A German tourist has died in a gondola accident in the Italian city of Venice, when the gondola that he was travelling in with his wife and three children collided with a water bus, crushing him and seriously injuring his three year old daughter, who sustained injuries to her head.

The man is reportedly a 50 year old law professor, and the accident occurred close to the popular Rialto Bridge on the city’s bustling waterways.

The waterbus was part of the city’s public transport system, and was reportedly stopping when the collision occurred.

Prosecutors in Venice have reportedly initiated an inquiry into the incident, and are looking into the possibility of taking criminal action against the gondolier or the driver of the water bus.

It is speculated that the cause of the collision was the fact that the canals of Venice are becoming increasingly congested with boats and gondola’s, making it difficult for vessels to effectively maneuver and traverse the canals without colliding with one another.

PAK Africa Aviation 1Time Offer

A group of Pakistani investors, PAK Africa Aviation, have submitted a bid to R15 million to purchase insolvent airline 1Time.  The group is reportedly backed by an unnamed Pakistani company, and locally, a number of persons who were part of the core team running Velvet Sky Airline, which was liquidated last year, are involved in the bid. The PAK Africa Aviation 1Time offer appears likely to be accepted.

The group has successfully established business in various parts of Africa in sectors including retail, financial services and manufacturing.

1Time reportedly has in the region of R500 million in debt, but the aspect that makes it an attractive acquisition is the fact that it has the necessary licenses to operate in South Africa.

PAK Africa Aviation is reportedly planning to use 1Time to establish a route for flights from Johannesburg to Harare, in partnership with Central Air Transport Services, a Zimbabwean airline which itself has regional and domestic air rights.

The service is likely to operate in competition with Fastjet and Skywise, which intend on establishing flight routes in the region.

Blind Deaf Priest Turned Away by British Airways

It has been reported that a South African born priest who is currently living in the United Kingdom,  Cyril Axelrod, was not allowed to board a British Airways flight because he is deaf and blind and was not travelling with another person to assist him. News about the blind deaf priest turned away by British Airways has since dominated the headlines, and has brought British Airways a great deal of negative publicity.

Axelrod has reportedly been travelling to various destinations worldwide without an assistant or chaperon, as he has been issued a Medical Card by British Airways PLC which confirms that despite his medical condition and disability, he can travel unaided.

Axelrod has been deaf since birth and later lost his sight, and as a result, it is necessary to communicate with him by tracing letters on his hands.

He has been a prominent activist for the rights of blind and deaf persons for a number of years.

The policy applied by British Airways would result in Axelrod having to incur the costs of an additional flight ticket for an assistant to travel with him.

He is currently in South Africa developing a training program with the Deaf Federation of South Africa, and he has reportedly claimed that the incident was highly humiliating and degrading.

The incident resulted in him missing a mass in Johannesburg.

The incident is likely to result in numerous airlines including British Airways reviewing their policy on disabled passengers.

A fine balance must be struck between the safety considerations that arise when a deaf and blind passenger travels on a flight, and the right not to be unfairly discriminated against. It is clearly a complex task achieving this balance, and it will be interesting to see how airlines handle such scenarios in the future, in the wake of the incident with Axelrod.

 

Mango Airlines Cabin Crew Fired for Theft

Mango Airlines has fired 24 members of its cabin crew, following an investigation into allegations that members of the Mango Airlines Cabin Crew staff have been fraudulently appropriating money through the in-flight catering service offered to passengers on the low cost airline’s domestic flights.

The airline became suspicious when it was discovered that it was not making as much as was expected from the catering service, and as a result, placed investigators in its flights to get to the bottom of the issue.

The investigation lasted several months, and during this time, investigators managed to capture footage of cabin crew appropriating money from the sale of coffee, tea and other beverages.

While the exact amount of money that was appropriated is not known, the airline has stated that it believes the amount to be significant. Meanwhile, the trade union representing the cabin crew staff who have been fired, has denied that the cabin crew have, in fact, committed the alleged fraud.

Jomo Kenyatta International Airport Functional Again

Kenya’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport is fully functional again after a fire ravaged part of the airport last week, causing severe damage to an arrivals terminal and resulting in all inbound and outbound flights being cancelled. This caused severe disruptions to the travel plans of thousands of travellers, who had to wait for a number of days for the situation to stabilise before being able to fly through the airport.

Flights from Nairobi to Johannesburg have since resumed operating, as have domestic flights on Kenyan low cost airline Fly540 and flights on a number of domestic and international carriers.

The cause of the blaze is still being investigated, and fortunately, there were no injuries or fatalities. Smoke could be seen billowing from above the building from a distance away.

There was a severe shortage of fire engines to respond to the emergency situation, bringing the lack of capacity of Kenya’s emergency response teams into the spotlight of the international media.

The airport is the largest hub in East Africa, and the incident affected flights throughout the region.