Cape Town - While more than 10% of the world's passenger aircraft are currently grounded because of the global economic downturn, South African airlines are switching their aircraft from poorly performing routes to busier ones.
Airline consultancy group Ascend says 2 300 of the entire international passenger aircraft fleet of 20 293 has been parked, reports SkyNews.
More than 1 000 of these were already stationary last year during aviation's worst year since 2001, when the September 11 terrorist strike resulted in a sharp fall-off in air travel. At the time about 13% of all passenger aircraft were grounded.
Comair, which handles domestic and regional flights for kulula.com and British Airways, said on Wednesday that from May 1 it would suspend its Wednesday and Sunday flights from Johannesburg to Mauritius.
It would retain its Saturday flights, but would redeploy the aircraft from the other two flights to the busy route between Johannesburg and Cape Town, as well as to routes that are expected to be busy with the impending British Lions rugby tour, the Confederation Cup soccer tournament ends next year's World Cup Soccer.
Comair and South African Airways confirmed that they had not suspended any aircraft. Robyn Chalmers, head of corporate affairs at SAA, said flights on international and domestic routes that were under pressure had been reduced to save costs. The airline was however still offering hourly flights from Johannesburg to Cape Town and Durban.
According to Ascend, European airlines had grounded more than 450 aircraft since the middle of last year, compared to almost 800 in North America and at least 230 in Asia and Pacific Ocean regions.
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