Airlink suspends Pretoria-CT flights to stem losses | Fin24

Airlink suspends Pretoria-CT flights to stem losses

Mar 06 2018 11:20
Carin Smith

Cape Town - In order to stem losses, Airlink will suspend services on the Pretoria-Cape Town route from May 8 2018, the airline announced on Tuesday.

The airline's CEO Rodger Foster said in a statement it was not a decision taken lightly, but after almost three years, the route has not developed as was expected it would.

“Sadly, the route has not become profitable, despite our collaborative best efforts – including significant marketing initiatives by the City of Tshwane, to promote the connection. The combination of operational constraints on the size of aircraft that can be used on the route and the poor state of the economy have not helped,” explained Foster.

“A compounding factor has been government’s understandable and commendable belt-tightening efforts, which include cut-backs in government-related travel.”

The flight between Wonderboom and Cape Town started in August 2015 and was mainly aimed at Tshwane-based government officials, private sector businesses and leisure travellers, according to the airline.

Until recently, Airlink operated up to four daily return flights on the route, using a combination of 83-seat Avro RJ85 and 37-seat Embraer ERJ135LR regional jets.  

“We are not closing the door, as we believe the Pretoria-Cape Town connection is important and could potentially be viable in the future. With this in mind, we will continually re-assess the market and the economy so that we can resume the service when the conditions are conducive,” said Foster.

Customers holding confirmed tickets for travel after the May 8 2018 will be re-booked on alternative SAA flights between OR Tambo International and Cape Town, or offered a full refund. 

Competition Commission

Airlink and Safair announced in February that they are disappointed that the Competition Commission did not approved the proposed Airlink acquisition of Safair.

The two independent SA aviation groups approached the Commission in November last year for approval to unite under the common umbrella of the Airlink group of companies.

The proposal submitted to the Commission was that the Airlink and low-cost FlySafair airlines as well as Safair’s other businesses would continue to operate separately under their unique brands. No job losses were foreseen because of the proposed consolidation.

The airlines indicated on Friday that they do not agree with the decision and will approach the Competition Tribunal to consider its application.

Airlink CEO Rodger Foster previously explained that the acquisition would bring opportunities to reduce combined costs and position the businesses for growth. At the same time connectivity would be increased. In his view the deal would make air travel accessible and affordable across Southern Africa.

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