South African low-cost carrier, Mango, is to launch a new daily service to Port Elizabeth from Johannesburg and a six times weekly link from Cape Town from December 10, 2012, its first new domestic market since it inaugurated flights to Lanseria in the middle of last year. The carrier has moved quickly to fill a void in the Port Elizabeth market following the recent collapse of fellow budget operator 1Time Airlines.
Mango’s parent, national carrier South African Airways (SAA), has been the dominant operator on these two routes for a long period of time and up until the early 1990s had held a monopoly. However, the proliferation of start-up carriers in the South African domestic market has meant it has faced increasing competition on the services to Port Elizabeth with British Airways’ franchise Comair now providing its own direct flights in both markets. Low-cost carrier 1Time Airlines also introduced flights from January 2007 but suspended services earlier this month after it failed to find a new source of investment.
“There is a requirement for a low-cost carrier on the Johannesburg - Port Elizabeth and Cape Town- Port Elizabeth route and with the recent exit of capacity Mango has brought forward its plans by a few months in order to accommodate market demand,” said Nico Bezuidenhout, Chief Executive Officer, Mango. He added that this is the start of a network expansion which will see several new destinations being introduced over the next 18 months, with a primary focus on the east-African seaboard.
Mango currently does not have the spare capacity to fly the Port Elizabeth services with its own equipment and confirms that a “leased-in aircraft” will initially fly these two routes until early next year when Mango expects to “add additional capacity to its own fleet”.
An estimated 651,000 O&D passengers flew between Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth in 2011 with around 294,000 flying between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth during the same year. According to the data, 1Time Airlines held a 16 per cent and 20 per cent share of the O&D traffic in these markets, respectively.