Please find below an archive of our press releases
24 January 2017 – Johannesburg. Low-cost carrier FlySafair today announced that it made a profit in 2016, the carrier’s second year of operations. This despite a tough trading environment, with low economic growth and an over-supply of seats on domestic routes.
Last year proved to be a tough year for local airlines, with SAA’s low-cost carrier, Mango, posting a loss of R39 million, while SAA secured an additional state loan guarantee of R5 billion. Comair, operators of low-cost carrier Kulula, bemoaned similarly poor results, reporting a 10% increase in passenger numbers but a 12% decline in profits after taxation.
“There’s no doubt that the market is heavily traded at the moment with an excess supply of seats on domestic routes,” says FlySafair CEO Elmar Conradie. “Fares are determined by a market and are very much at the mercy of the powers of supply and demand. If supply grows more than demand, prices will fall.”
Statistics published by Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) indicate that domestic passenger numbers grew by approximately 6% year-on-year in 2016, which is positive, but was unfortunately outstripped by the supply of seats, which is said to have grown by as much as 12%.
“Now, more than ever, it’s essential that carriers focus on keeping their cost per seat as low as possible,” says Conradie, when asked how FlySafair managed to achieve such an impressive result. “It’s essential that we drive efficiencies across all aspects of our business in order to remain competitive.”
FlySafair’s result is particularly impressive in the wake of the airline’s aggressive expansion in the past year. During 2016, it added three new aircraft to its operating fleet, bringing it to a total of nine aircraft. In August, the airline also launched new routes from Lanseria to Cape Town and George. The airline still managed to achieve a profit after these major growth investments.
There’s no doubt that this is a great time for the South African flying public. Airfares were said to have dropped by as much as 39% in 2015 on some routes FlySafair operates – a trend that continued through to 2016.
For airlines, it’s a tough time as carriers tussle it out in the marketplace to get bums on seats. “By the end of 2016, we’d flown more than 2.6 million passengers and maintained an on-time performance record of 95.8%, the best in South Africa,” says Conradie, commenting on why he believes customers choose his airline above others.
“There’s no doubt that price and great service play major roles, too,” he added. Due to its excellent service, the airline was awarded with six Feather Awards during ACSA’s annual excellence awards ceremony at the end of 2016. Each and every ACSA Airport it operates from honoured FlySafair with the annual Feather Award for Best Low Cost Carrier.
Looking into 2017, Conradie said that FlySafair was looking at a year of consolidation. “We’re looking at a few possible expansion plans, but the aim for this year is to slow the growth a little and work on making small differences that will improve our cost efficiencies in order to keep fares as low as possible.”
Call: 011 928 0000
FlySafair wins “Best Low Cost Carrier” Award from every ACSA airport it operates
FlySafair has best on-time performance of all airlines & tops 2015 global best
6 December 2016 – Johannesburg – FlySafair certainly ruffled some feathers last week when every ACSA airport it operates from honoured it with the annual Feather Award for Best Low Cost Carrier. Having operated for just over two years, the airline has most certainly taken the market by storm, offering great low fares and an excellent on-time performance record.
The Feather Awards is Airport Company South Africa’s (ACSA’s) annual excellence awards ceremony. The awards are judged at each airport on an individual basis, based on a range of criteria surrounding the level of customer experience offered by the airlines. Winning the coveted Best Low Cost Carrier award at every station operated is a new record for the awards series.
A major factor contributing to this success is FlySafair’s on-time performance record. ACSA measures every airline’s on-time performance, deeming a flight to be on time if it departs within 15 minutes of the scheduled departure time – a standard international measure implemented by airports around the world. All possible delays are factored into this calculation, including delays outside of the airline’s direct control, such as inclement weather.
FlySafair has an on-time performance record of 96,4% for the year. This is the leading on-time performance record among all airlines operating in South Africa and tops the world best for 2015, which was 92,86%, awarded to Japan Airlines.
“There’s no doubt that this success is a testament to the experienced team that is behind FlySafair,” says Kirby Gordon, Head of Sales & Distribution at FlySafair. “Few people realise that, while FlySafair has only been operating for two years, Safair has actually been in this game for over 51 years.”
“While these awards are certainly wonderful to receive, our focus going forward will be to ensure that we maintain and surpass these levels of excellence,” adds Gordon, who recognises that “complacency is our biggest potential threat”.
FlySafair’s partner, First Car Rental, and its ground handling company, Swissport, each received three Feather Awards. First Car was honoured with Feather Awards for Car Hire Service Provider at OR Tambo, Bloemfontein and Upington airports, and Swissport for Best Ground Handler at OR Tambo, King Shaka and East London.
Call: 011 928 0000
FlySafair reiterates that it would be willing to buy Mango Airlines for the right price after the SAA-owned enterprise posted a financial loss
Johannesburg, 16 November 2016 – Low-cost carrier FlySafair has reiterated its offer to purchase Mango Airlines after the SAA-owned carrier posted a net loss of R36.9 million for the year ended March 2016, despite indications that the airline enjoyed financial subsidisation from state-funded SAA.
This was despite the Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA) noting a trend towards an increase in domestic passenger traffic, which FlySafair has seen across its route network.
Elmar Conradie, CEO of FlySafair, said the carrier would buy Mango Airlines from the government at the right price. “Mango’s fleet and operating model is closer to FlySafair’s low-cost approach, and would be a more natural extension to FlySafair’s successful business model. Operating a larger fleet would afford us the opportunity to enjoy even larger economies of scale – and through this, sustain lower fares to the flying public.”
Mango’s loss comes even though it has been accused of allegedly engaging in predatory pricing as it sub-leases aircraft from its parent company, South African Airways (SAA), at discounted prices, allowing it to price flights at below operational costs. SAA is itself under serious financial pressure, after reporting a loss of R5.6 billion in two years and failing to secure another bailout from Treasury.
“FlySafair is well-positioned to meet the increasing demand in domestic travel that has been reported by ACSA,” says Kirby Gordon, Head of Sales and Distribution at FlySafair. “As it stands, we are achieving a pleasingly low operating cost per seat, which is allowing us to contest the market at the current low fares. These results indicate that Mango, despite alleged subsidisation, is not managing the same sort of efficiency. We see potential to make a difference in this regard, which is why we would be happy to purchase the airline at the right price”
Gordon added that this “would also take some financial burden off the government.”
“The issue of subsidisation is also contentious as Mango is mandated to contest the market on a fair competitive basis – hence the DA’s request for an inquisition.”
Since FlySafair launched operations two years ago, average fares on routes operated by FlySafair are up to 39% cheaper than they were five years ago, with fares starting from as low as R499. The airline has fast grown to account for 27% of the weekly seat capacity among the country’s three low cost carriers and currently operates the largest domestic route network among the three.
Having experienced volume-driven web failure themselves, local low-cost airline FlySafair offers a helping hand as the Gauteng Department of Education struggles with #admissions2017.
The Gauteng Department of Education had to suspend new online scholar registrations for the 2017 intake again yesterday, after their website crashed under the weight of unprecedented traffic load.
Parents took to Twitter to express their increasing frustration as they struggled to complete registrations. MEC for Education in Gauteng, Panyaza Lesufi announced a further delay, giving the department a new deadline of Friday to have the system up and running.
Offer to help
Low-cost airline FlySafair have raised a hand in support, offering to assist the department with insights they have relating to this challenge. This morning FlySafair sent a letter to the Gauteng MEC of Education extending an offer of any advice that they can provide.
“As a company, we are passionate about the need for education in this country, and our IT teams are more than happy to make time available to consult with you if it would be helpful,” the letter read.
“We’ve been there,” says FlySafair
In August 2015, FlySafair held a sale where they offered up to 30 000 flights for just R1 including airport taxes. “The response was overwhelming,” says Kirby Gordon, vice president of sales and distribution at FlySafair, and despite our best planning efforts, our site was unable to cope with the influx of traffic.
” The airline managed to resurrect their site and extended what was supposed to be a one-day only sale, to a second day in order to ensure that the tickets were sold.
“The experience taught us a lot,” adds Gordon, who confirmed that the airline has since been investing in their website to prevent the same occurrence with future sales. “We want to be prepared for another big sale,” he said, hinting that they may need to sell tickets for R2 this year to cope with 2016 consumer inflation.
What can the department do?
According to FlySafair, there are two fairly quick strategies that the department is probably exploring to cope with the traffic.
Gordon explains that even if the traffic loads don’t completely crash the site, the number of requests to link people’s home addresses to local schools could be overwhelming the servers resulting in the odd matches that parents are complaining about on social media.
Many people dream of becoming a pilot, jetting all over the world in the pilot’s seat, but not many know how to accomplish this dream. Given the responsibility of safely flying thousands of passengers every week, the process of becoming a pilot is both rigorous and technical, but the reward of achieving your dream makes it all worth it.
A solid base of theory and practice
To become a pilot for an airline like FlySafair, you need to first complete a private pilot licence (PPL) before getting a commercial pilot’s licence (CPL) combined with an Instrument Rating and then go on to get an Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATP). The CPL qualifies you as a professional pilot ready to transport passengers or cargo in return for payment, or to co-pilot a bigger aircraft. The ATP allows you to captain larger passenger aircraft.
In order to undertake commercial pilot training, you’ll need to meet the following requirements:
Once you have accumulated all the required flying hours in your logbook, completed your instrument rating and passed all examinations and tests, your training documentation will be checked and sent to the CAA. A fee must be paid for issuing your CPL Licence and finally have your PPL upgraded to a CPL.
Funding and timing
Most pilots in South Africa self-fund their training, and it is extremely pricey– costing around a million rand to reach the CPL level. Given this, very few people can afford to complete their qualification and required hours in one full-time slot. In theory, if you had the funding upfront and pass everything first time with – ahem – flying colours, you could arguably finish in around ten months. But Johan Schoeman, FlySafair’s Manager of Flight Safety, cautions that realistically you can expect training to that level to take you at least a year, while many people take several years to complete CPL. One funding alternative is to do your pilot’s training with a national air force, like the South African Air Force, before going on to commercial piloting. There will likely be a work-back period or similar ongoing commitments to honour if you go this route.
Taking it to the next level
To upgrade your qualifications to an ATP, you need to be at least 21 years old and have accumulated a further 1500 hours flight experience. The flight hours must include at least 250 hours as Pilot-in-Command (PIC), 200 hours cross-country PIC, 75 hours of Instrument Flying PIC, and 100 night hours PIC.
FlySafair generally only recruits pilots with an ATP licence. Aircraft type-specific training – which at FlySafair includes Boeing 737-400 and 737-800 training – will be given by the airline if your job application is successful.
A shortage of pilots
Given the large time and money commitment outlined above, South Africa is facing a shortage of qualified and experienced pilots. This situation has worsened because of the increased global competition for pilots, leading to an industry-specific “brain drain”. The silver-lining of this fact though is that if you do make it through the various qualifications, your services will be in high demand, and you will be able to look for employment in this exciting field locally or abroad.
Passion or bust
With such huge barriers to entry in the field, it is not surprising that the profession is filled with people who have a deep passion for flying. “It’s one of those industries, that if you are not passionate, the obstacles in your path will cure you of your ambition,” Schoeman says.
He continues: “And it’s all worth it in the end. As a pilot, you never stop learning, and no matter what is going on in your life – stress, family issues, and what not – when your wheels leave the tarmac, you leave all of that behind for the freedom of the sky. It’s a great feeling.”
Pure-play retail will be a thing of the past as the omni-channel approach becomes the new business strategy of 2016. So, what is it and how can companies do it right?
Omni-channel is about providing access to services and products in a variety of contexts: online, in stores, on mobile devices or via third parties. According to NYU professor, Scott Galloways’ Four Horsemen of the digital economy, pure-play trade, which has been embodied by the likes of Amazon – offering only a digital retail platform – is falling away. Amazon has already announced opening its first brick-and-mortar book store. The opposite move is also true, where locally, the likes of Woolworths, Pick n Pay, Makro and other traditional brick-and-mortar stores are offering online shopping alternatives.
The idea is to open as many doors between a company and the end client as possible, not just to facilitate sales, but to facilitate the end-to-end customer experience.
I believe the airline industry is ahead of the curve when it comes to managing a multitude of consumer engagement platforms. At FlySafair you can buy tickets on various offline and online channels, and through third parties. You can also follow up and ask for help through all of those channels as well as email and social media.
So what advice does FlySafair offer to other players looking to get it right?
Just because you’re an omni-channel business, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t maintain a single point of view of all your customers, whether they’re reaching out to you on Facebook, or speaking to a check-in agent at the airport. A strong IT infrastructure providing a central view of your customer is core to linking all the environments. The right platforms, coupled with big data analytics will provide valuable customer insights.
Absolutely essential is to move away from the view that this model is just about having a variety of sales and marketing channels. Yes, this is core of the omni-channel offering, but it’s also about opening all doors for customers to reach out to you before, during and after a purchase takes place.
Even if you aren’t selling anything online, your website is still a vital channel as a repository of information that can lead to a sale, or a place for customer feedback. Businesses also need to understand how people want to engage and what the expectations are related to a given channel. If a customer emails a question, how long do they expect to wait for an answer? Does that expectation change if they SMS? These are all things that need to be built into your channel architecture.
Additionally, a customer’s journey needs be completely channel agnostic. The key is to recognise your customer behind whatever door they open, picking up the conversation where you left off without hesitation.
Once you have determined the channels of engagement it’s time to reach out to potential customers. There’s no point in just throwing yourself at all of them at once. Carefully consider the nature of the channel and the customer using it. Here are some pointers:
Pick your cheapest route to market and make that your primary sales channel. The cheapest way for us to sell a ticket is via our own website. The overheads on a website are far less than involving a third-party sales agent or a physical space. So, we ensure that the customer can find the best deal via our website, also accessible via mobile. Similarly, a restaurant may choose their front of house as the primary channel and while takeaway deliveries are offered, they come at a delivery premium.
Segment your target market. Then open channels first for the biggest and most lucrative segment. An online store selling luxury homeware may start with a primary retail target market of new homeowners through a website. In time, it may open itself up to another channel via wedding registries, and then incorporate a pop-up showroom. The key is to decide which channel is most essential to establish first, bed that down and then diversify.
Understand who adds value where. Make sure that it is charged for appropriately. Online travel comparison websites, for example, offer the end user a single environment with a smorgasbord of airlines, prices and times. It’s a great service, but with it comes a third party and someone that needs to make a buck in the process. Often, these aggregators pressure airlines to pay a commission out of their fares so that the fare displayed on the aggregator’s website matches that on the airline’s website, meaning the airline loses money on sales. In FlySafair’s world there is no fat built into our fares, so this is not the way to go. The entity which adds the value should be the one charging for it – consumers respect this transparency and it makes better business sense for that channel.
When it comes to marketing, each channel requires a tailored strategy. Corporate travellers tend to require last-minute bookings and flexibility to change their trips. So we market these benefits to that segment through a channel like corporate self-booking tools. However, there’s no need to push this message at a Pick n Pay store where the customer is a long-lead leisure traveller. This just adds unnecessary costs.
Put most of your budget behind your main medium. For FlySafair, it makes sense that we would put our primary effort behind bringing customers to our own website. When it comes to marketing channels like our online travel agency partners or retail partners, we conduct shared marketing activities because the benefit is shared.
So, pick your channels wisely and embrace the omni-channel revolution.
Written by: Kirby Gordon
Vice President of Sales and Distribution at FlySafair
Johannesburg, South Africa – 5 April 2016 – Low-cost carrier FlySafair has announced the launch of its mobisite, accessible at www.flysafair.co.za, which issues mobile-optimised boarding passes to save travellers time and money when flying.
The airline opted for a responsive site, which adapts to fit the device the site is being accessed from, rather than a separate mobile platform or application, to keep costs low. These savings will continue to be passed on to passengers through affordable air fares.
According to a recent Ipsos survey, 50% of online shoppers in South Africa who own a mobile or feature phone have used it to shop online, while an additional 21% expect to do so in future.
“South Africa’s m-commerce market has grown significantly over the past year – from 23.1% in 2013 to 46.5% in 2014 – so it was crucial that we were able to provide a better solution on mobile. Mobile already accounts for a third of FlySafair’s traffic and desktop over half. Since launching the mobisite, mobile conversion rates have doubled while desktop conversion rates have increased by more than 150%. Based on our traffic patterns, this supports the trend of online shoppers researching products on their mobiles and then switching to desktop to make the purchase, and there is a demand for this type of functionality among our customers,” says Kirby Gordon, vice president of marketing for FlySafair.
The airline decided against the creation of a dedicated mobile application because the maintenance of a separate platform would have added to its costs. It also did not believe that an app would have given customers a better experience than its mobisite.
“Travellers can do anything they would normally do on the desktop site – such as search for and book flights, check in and confirm flight status – on the mobisite. The added benefit is the mobile-optimised boarding pass, which means they don’t need to print their boarding passes or visit a kiosk at the airport – they simply scan their phones when boarding. We did not compromise on functionality but streamlined the mobisite in that there are fewer banners and a simpler interface, which cuts down on data usage,” says Gordon.
“We would love an app but our philosophy is that an app should provide additional benefits to the customer over and above what they get when they visit the desktop or mobile sites – much like the FNB app – otherwise it’s just a glorified booking tool that costs money to maintain. We also did not want to exclude the feature phone market, which makes up more than 50% of the South African mobile space. But once we figure out how an app can make our flights even cheaper or improve the travel experience for customers, we’ll definitely consider it,” says Gordon.
CONTACT: For additional information, please contact WE Communications on +27 (0)11 550 5400 orFlySafair@we-worldwide.com.
FlySafair is the low cost carrier of Africa’s foremost leading aviation service providers, Safair, who boast an established history of enabling airlines and operators to successfully navigate their business in an ever-changing business climate. The company’s dedication to excellence has been fostered by their years of expertise and experience in providing aircraft leasing, maintenance, special operations, chartering and training services. For further information, please visit http://www.flysafair.co.za/.
24 February 2016, Johannesburg – In his 2016 budget speech yesterday, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan boldly announced that no further bailouts would be granted to any state-owned enterprises: sad news for the national carrier airline which was banking on a R5 billion line of credit needed to keep its head above water. He added that the government has no need to be invested in four airlines [sic] and that he would be working together with the Minister of Public Enterprises to explore the possibilities of merging SAA and SA Express with a new “strengthened board” and a potential minority investor.
Elmar Conradie, CEO of FlySafair said that they would have no interest in being that equity investor, explaining that the underlying business model of SAA is not consistent with the strict low cost approach of their model.
Domestic air travel in South Africa has experienced a remarkable turnaround in the last 18 months. Weekly domestic seat capacity at present is 400 000 seats, and airfares are lower than they were five years ago. Since entering the market in October 2014 FlySafair has managed to bring down the average fares on routes they operate by up to 39% with fares starting at only R499 – meaning that South Africans can fly from Johannesburg to Cape Town return for roughly the same price as a tank of fuel. “We believe it’s never been this cheap to fly,” adds Conradie.
“These lower fares have been great for the public and the market has grown by as much as 12%,” said Conradie. He added that a survey of just under 3 000 FlySafair customers over the festive period indicated that 15% of their passengers experienced their first flight ever over this recent summer holiday.
“We would, however, buy Mango; although obviously it would need to be at the right price,” Conradie said, building on Minister Gordhan’s statement about government having no need to be invested in four airlines [sic].
Conradie further explained that Mango’s fleet and operating model was closer to FlySafair’s low cost approach, and would be a more natural extension to FlySafair’s successful business model. He added that operating a larger fleet would afford FlySafair the opportunity to enjoy even larger economies of scale – and through this, potentially offer even lower fares to the flying public. He also noted that government could then channel these funds to bolster the positive 2016 budget presented.
FlySafair currently operates a fleet of seven aircraft, with the biggest national route network of the low cost carriers. It is part of Safair Operations, Africa’s leading operator of specialised aviation services. Safair celebrated 50 years of business in August last year.
Johannesburg, South Africa – 27 January 2016 – FlySafair has confirmed that technical issues that disrupted two flights last weekend have been fully resolved.
On Friday, 22nd January, Flight FA202 from Johannesburg to Cape Town was cruising at 36,000ft when it experienced a gradual loss of pressure on board. The pilots commenced a fully controlled slow descent, in accordance with Boeing manuals and Safair- and CAA-approved operating procedures, taking nine minutes to get to 10,000ft, a height where the aircraft does not need to be pressurised.
The aircraft was checked by engineers who repaired a loose clamp on a duct. After successful pressurisation tests on the ground and test flights up to an altitude of 36,000ft, the aircraft re-entered service on Sunday, 24th January.
Unfortunately, while operating flight FA103 from Johannesburg to Cape Town on Sunday, a second, coincidental technical incident occurred. On this occasion, a cargo door seal caused a gradual loss of pressure in the cabin. Once again, pilots began a slow and fully controlled descent in eight minutes, from 32,000ft to 10,000ft.
FlySafair Chief Executive Officer Elmar Conradie said the airline fully appreciates and understands that some passengers were worried during the incidents. He apologised for any inconvenience caused. He added that the airline did everything in it’s power to accommodate these customers and the majority travelled on a standby aircraft. He assured passengers that the crews adhered to all safety procedures and that their safety remains the airline’s top priority.
Simon Segwabe, Executive Manager of air safety operations at CAA, publicly commended the FlySafair pilots for bringing passengers back to the ground safely and following CAA prescibed protocol. He expanded on the protocol explaining that pilots are required to navigate the aircraft and complete all safety procedures critical to flight, before addressing passengers.
The aircraft involved has since passed all engineering tests but will not return to service until a further series of ground and flight tests have been repeated.
“The second round of tests is not a necessary requirement of the aircraft manufacturer or the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), but we are proceeding with them anyway because safety is our priority and we want to honour our customers’ trust in us,” Mr. Conradie explained.
He added that FlySafair crews reacted professionally and in accordance with protocol and training to instigate a set of precautionary procedures, in line with the prescriptions of the Civil Aviation Authority and the operating manuals of the airline and Boeing.
Passengers on the flights reported that the planes nose-dived and that the oxygen masks did not work; however, Mr. Conradie says this was not the case. Both aircraft descended gradually and did not nose-dive. At no time did either aircraft descend at a rate outside the normal descent envelope.
“Oxygen masks do not inflate, which lead some passengers to believe that they were not working. As pressure loss was gradual in both incidents, oxygen was not actually required at any time during either flight. The crew manually dropped the masks as a precautionary measure and to assist in passengers’ comfort,” said Mr. Conradie.
The oxygen system was checked after landing and engineers confirmed that it was fully operational, that all masks deployed and all worked properly.
The oxygen canisters on the Boeing 737 are designed to provide oxygen for a period of 15 minutes, which can be double the time it takes to reach a altitude where oxygen is not needed. Understandably, some passengers tried to use the masks for longer than 15 minutes and may have had the misconception that the masks did not work.
“We acknowledge the concern these incidents may have raised among consumers, but we want to reassure passengers that we have an excellent safety record in the 50 years we have flown as Safair,” said Mr. Conradie.
“We broke the mould in terms of air travel for South Africans,” said Mr. Conradie. “Our arrival has seen airfares on all carriers drop by over a third across the market. We have also been the most punctual airline for all of 2015 in Johannesburg and Cape Town and we have done all of this without ever compromising on safety.”
“We never compromise on customer service, either, and that is why, despite offering market-changing low fares that have allowed thousands of South Africans to fly for the first time, we were awarded the prestigious Feather Award for Customer Service,” Mr. Conradie concluded.
FlySafair offers cheap flights to Cape Town from Johannesburg, Durban, East London and Port Elizabeth. Check out more about this great destination.
FlySafair has regular cheap flights to Durban from Cape Town and Johannesburg. Find out more about this amazing coastal city....