VENTURES AFRICA- Following the decision of Jet Airways to temporarily suspend its service on the Mumbai-Johannesburg route, South Africa’s national carrier, South African Airways, has declared its intention to add an additional flight frequency to the route.
The South African airline plans to start an additional flight on the route on Saturday, thereby offering a five-days-a-week service. Currently, the national carrier of South Africa operates four flights a week between Mumbai and South African Airways on Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The new service will be on Sundays, the airline said in a statement.
This new addition will allow the national carrier maximize the current tourist growth from India and expand its base in the Asian country. South African Airways will fly Airbus A330-200 on the India-South Africa sector with 186 economy and 36 business class seats.
This addition will also be a great advantage to Indians flying to South America, as flying via Johannesburg is the shortest route to the continent. The airline flies thrice to Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires. The flying time from Mumbai to Buenos Aires is 22 hours and 35 minutes.
The South African Airways also serves 20 destinations across the African continent and is a member of the largest global airline network, Star Alliance.
“Over the decades, South African Airways has evolved into one of the leading carriers in Africa, offering the biggest route network in the continent. With South Africa witnessing an upsurge of Indian tourists, the airline has revised their frequency to meet the growing demand, offering a truly South African experience to the Indian customer,” a statement from South Africa airways asserted.
According to the Country Manager (India) of South African Airways, Sajid Khan, “recent economic developments are likely to have a positive impact on the business relationships between India and South Africa, and we foresee a growth in traffic between the two countries.”
“We have witnessed a steady performance with growth in leisure tourism and MICE tourism from this country, which presents an important market for us, and this increase in flight frequency is a step in the right direction to meet market expectations,” Khan said.
In 2011, the number of tourist from South Africa to India grew by 26.2 per cent with 90,367 Indians travelling to the country. The growth continued in 2012 with 6,805 visitors from India in the month of February this year – a 24.9 per cent increase compared with 5,449 visitors in February 2011. The country’s overall growth in 2011 was largely due to a 14.6 per cent growth in the emerging markets of Asia.
In the past, Jet Airways was the only domestic carrier connecting Mumbai with Johannesburg, apart from the code-share arrangement that Air India has with the South African Airways but it has suspended its Mumbai-Johannesburg flights since Monday, June11.
Jet Airways had on Thursday declared in a statement that ,”as part of its ongoing network evaluation with a clear focus on profitability, the airline has redeployed its assets on its existing route network, involving temporarily suspending its Mumbai-Johannesburg flights from June 11.”
Due to a strong demand on the route, the national courier plans to increase its flight frequency to six by August 21- although it is still subjected to government approval.
Khan said, “Following the response to the addition of the fifth flight from June 16, 2012, we will be increasing the frequency to six flights per week from August, 2012 on this popular route. India presents an important market to South African Airways, and this increase in flight frequency is a step in the right direction to meet market expectations.”
“The sixth frequency in the route that is scheduled to commence in August is awaiting government approval,” Mr Khan added.
“As it increases its frequency to cater to the growing Indian market, South African Airways will become the exclusive carrier flying direct from Mumbai to Johannesburg,” the statement said.