South African low-cost carrier Mango will help launch a new Connecting Partner Model from global airline grouping Star Alliance as it seeks to further expand its network reach. The South African Airways (SAA) subsidiary will be the first ‘low-cost’ or ‘hybrid’ carrier to introduce its network into that of the wider grouping. This will allow customers of Star Alliance member carriers to select from an even wider choice of destinations and flights.
“With this innovative concept, we are breaking new ground. We see a definite trend of convergence between the ‘traditional full service’ and ‘low-cost’ business models in the airline industry,” said Mark Schwab, Chief Executive Officer, Star Alliance.
“At the same time, our customers are telling us that they need access to markets where we do not yet provide ideal coverage. In many cases network carriers are not in a position to fill this gap and hence working with future Connecting Partners will allow us to provide an extended network to our travellers,” he added.
The alliance says Connecting Partners will be carefully assessed for their fit into the grouping’s existing network, but while these selected airlines will need to comply and adhere to the high operating standard required by the Alliance, they will not become a member of the Alliance itself.
Through the new offer, customers travelling on an itinerary which includes a transfer between a Star Alliance member airline and a Connecting Partner will be offered Alliance benefits such as passenger and baggage through check-in. Moreover, Star Alliance Gold Card holders will enjoy a tailored set of privileges in line with the different product offerings of the individual Connecting Partner.
The Connecting Partners will also be able to enter into bilateral commercial agreements with selected Star Alliance member airlines, which may include additional Frequent Flyer Programme based privileges.
“We are delighted to be working with Mango as we marry traditional and low-cost or hybrid airlines for the first time in our Alliance’s history. The airline’s innovative and progressive style makes it an ideal candidate for launching our new Connecting Partner concept. We aim to have first customers using this new offer as of the third quarter of 2016,” said Schwab.
Mango celebrates a decade in aviation next year after first taking to the skies on November 15, 2006. Since then, the airline has grown its fleet from four to ten Boeing 737-800 aircraft, operating between South Africa’s key domestic points as well as between Johannesburg and Zanzibar.
It recently become the largest low-cost airline in South Africa by passenger volume and remains the only African airline to offer on-board Wi-Fi. In addition, Mango has been recognised for its Customer Service Excellence by various award organisations.
“Innovation and a relentless pursuit of excellence are the cornerstones of Mango and fundamental to our culture as a business,” said Nico Bezuidenhout, Chief Executive Officer, Mango. “Participation in the development of, and ultimately becoming the launch Star Alliance Connecting Partner airline, wedges-in with our medium to long term business objectives,” he added.
Bezuidenhout said that while the Connecting Partner product flies in the face of convention, the common ground for the concept relates directly to the bottom line. “Becoming a Connecting Partner will give any low-cost or hybrid airline a competitive advantage that immediately grows market share while creating greater choice for travellers,” he said.
You can find out more about Mango from our World Routes Strategy Summit interview between our Head of Content & Industry Relations, Michael Miller and Nico Bezuidenhout, who up until recently was also acting Chief Executive Officer of South African Airways.
The respected airline executive discussed the company’s origins, how its innovative name and brand was selected from 1000 options, its business model, ticket distribution, competition from the bus industry, the issue of cannibalisation of markets, licencing issues, airport operating times, the importance of on-time performance, life at South African Airways and future aspirations.
Watch the full session from the World Routes Strategy Summit, below: