South African low-cost carrier, FlySafair, is to add three Next-Generation Boeing 737-800s to its current Classic 737 fleet as it expedites its development following a strong first nine months of operation. The airline has carried more than 500,000 passengers during that period on a network that encompasses Johannesburg, Cape Town, George, Port Elizabeth and from October this year will see new links to Durban, host of this year’s World Routes, and East London.
The low-cost airline currently has a fleet of five older 737-400 models and will use the 737-800s to support growth in existing markets and to support future network expansion. The additional capacity of the 737-800 versus the 737-400 of around 20 seats mean a like-for-like aircraft deployment switch will boost capacity by around 12.5 per cent.
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The three aircraft, all believed to be currently flying in South Africa with national carrier South African Airways (SAA) and its low-cost Mango business, are due for delivery in the final quarter of this year and while they will initially operate alongside the 737-400s, the first of FlySafair’s older generation aircraft are planned to be retired from next year with the airline transitioning to an all 737-800 fleet in the future.
“Upgrading to 737-800s is the next step in the evolution of a low-cost carrier. Our growth has prompted us to take this step much earlier so that we can continue to offer a competitive route network and schedule, and achieve a lower cost per seat,” said the airline’s newly appointed chief executive officer, Elmar Conradie.
The executive, a qualified chartered accountant and certified information auditor was formerly the company’s chief financial officer. He has worked within the Safair business for ten years and played an instrumental role in getting the new low-cost carrier off the ground last year.
“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. My goal at FlySafair is to continue to provide our customers with on-time, affordable and accessible domestic travel,” he said.
Nine months on from its October 2014 launch, FlySafair and other new entrants have certainly enhanced the consumer offer in some key domestic South African markets with data showing a reduction in domestic airfares of up to 39 per cent on some of the routes currently operated by FlySafair since before its inauguration.
Last month FlySafair revealed its latest growth new links from Johannesburg and Cape Town to Durban and East London after initially asking the public to vote for their preferred new route among the four city pairs. The airline launched the campaign earlier this month, but rather than simply selecting the most popular choice, has decided to launch all four from the end of October 2015.
“This is an incredible time for aviation in South Africa,” said Conradie. “With increased competition we are seeing the emergence of a better and more affordable product which is a huge win for the consumer.”
FlySafair is part of aircraft leasing and management company, Safair, considered to be one of Africa's foremost leading aviation service providers with an established history of enabling airlines and operators to successfully navigate their business in an ever-changing business climate.
The company has expertise and experience in providing aircraft leasing, maintenance, special operations, chartering and training services and is majority controlled by South African interests, with the remaining 25 per cent shareholding owned by the Irish ASL Aviation Group.