Pretoria – 1time wants to establish itself as the first regional airline with low-cost model flights between destinations in Africa.
Its strategy could include a restriction of domestic flights where heavy competition impacts profitability.
With its new routes 1time will improve access to destinations in Africa, with Zanzibar already seeing strong growth in tourist numbers.
Chief executive Blacky Komani, when introducing 1time’s direct flights to Mombasa in Kenya, said further expansion to countries with which bilateral agreements exist could follow in the next three months.
1time already has two flights a week to Tanzania's Zanzibar island group and five times a week to Livingstone in Zambia.
From next month the airline will fly twice a week from the OR Tambo able to Mombasa.
1time hopes to transport South African tourists – who, because of the tight economy, have abandoned plans to travel to the US and Europe – to Kenya, with the South African rand currently buys more than 11 Kenya shillings.
The airline is expected to carry 200 to 300 passengers a week to Mombasa, but Komani said that initially it would provide flights only in one direction – to Mombasa.
The airline will however also focus its marketing on business travellers to Mombasa and it hopes for full flights in both directions within six months. The country's middle class is growing rapidly, increasing 1time’s potential market.
The airline hopes that its low price and the fact that travellers will cut out connecting flights will give it a larger market share.
Kenya's Tourism Minister Najib Balala has welcomed the flights.
He said tourism is responsible for 10% of Kenya's gross domestic product and is the biggest sector after agriculture (27%). South Africa is currently the country’s biggest source market after Uganda.
From January to November last year around 34 000 South Africans visited Kenya. Thanks to the 1time flights this number could increase by 10 000 a year.
The number of South African tourists visiting Zanzibar apparently increased after the inception of 1time’s flights to that destination. The airline however had to drop earlier flights to Mozambique which were unprofitable.
According to Balala a new bypass is being planned from the airport in Mombasa to the southern coastal region, which will reduce the ferryboat bottleneck from Mombasa Island. Construction is expected to start at the end of the year.
Komani said 1time was considering a reducing the frequency of flights on less profitable domestic routes in South Africa, but will not give up entire routes.