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Safair's special seats will make business soar - new CEO

Jul 15 2015 13:20
Carin Smith

Johannesburg - While Safair celebrates 50 years of operations and the appointment of a new CEO, it is  gearing up to make FlySafair a roaring success - and its special seats are key to this.

Safair, parent company of the new low-cost airline FlySafair, announced on Wednesday that it had appointed Elmar Conradie as its CEO. Conradie has been with Safair since 2005 and was previously the company's chief financial officer and is regarded as having been instrumental in getting FlySafair off the ground. He takes over from Dave Andrew, who remains a director.

Fin24 spoke exclusively to the new CEO, who shared his vision for the future. "On the routes we fly, domestic airfares have fallen by up to 39%," he said, adding that he is excited about FlySafair's newest routes to East London and Durban.

"We focus on on-time performance - 93% on-time performance since we started in October 2014 and 95% on-time the past six months - and affordability. We have already sold about 150 000 tickets at R499 or less," continued Conradie.

"This is not a gimmick. The key for us is to make prices sustainable and to keep them low. That is why we are trying to keep the cost per seat as low as possible."

That is why the airline decided to change the seats on its aircraft to ones that are lighter and thinner.

“The new seats are specially designed to offer passengers as much space and comfort as possible, and at the same time save on weight and therefore fuel costs,” said Conradie.

He told Fin24 that due to demand, FlySafair is adding three more planes to its fleet as from about October or November - Boeing 737-800s.

"This is a huge step for us and follows on the good reaction to our business. Just because we are a low-cost airline, does not mean we have to be inferior," he explained.

"Having worked at Safair for the past 10 years, I have an intimate understanding of the business. Safair has assisted a number of successful carriers to launch in the market and it has given us experience and insight into how we can successfully disrupt the low-cost carrier and e-commerce space."

About 90% of FlySafair's sales are via its website and about 50% of passengers actually book a bag.

Safair has been active in Africa’s aircraft freight, charter and leasing industry for the past 50 years.

FlySafair began operations between Johannesburg and Cape Town nine months ago and has celebrated flying its 500 000th passenger.

“This is an incredible time for aviation in South Africa. With increased competition we are seeing the emergence of a better and more affordable product, which is a huge win for the consumer," said Conradie.

READ: Budget airlines spread wings into shops

flysafair  |  aviation  |  airlines
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