LCCs still popular with corporates

While the perception may be that, in general, low-cost carriers (LCCs) are less reliable and have more delays than full-service airlines, a shift away from LCCs back to full-service carriers is not something being seen in the South Africa business travel market.

This is according to Kirby Gordon, head of Sales and Distribution at FlySafair. “I don’t think that this is really at play here in South Africa,” he told Travel & Meetings Buyer. “In tough economic times people tend to move business to LCCs to save some money.” According to Gordon, despite the tough economic climate, FlySafair grew 40% last year, something he believes was assisted by the economic shift.

Ceo and md of Airlink, Rodger Foster, says it is not necessarily the case that LCCs are unreliable or not on time. In fact, Foster said it might be the full-service carriers who are feeling the pressure in the local market.  “Full-service carriers will have to shape up and offer a value proposition that includes reliability and punctuality, or lose their customers,” he said. “Time is money to any corporate traveller and it is of paramount importance that an airline respects this and delivers the best punctuality possible. Delays often have repercussions such as missed meetings or deadlines and valuable time wasted, all of which could be material to the customer.”

Gordon also pointed out that there had been a significant shift in the capacity split recently. “Last year SAA exited six B737-800 aircraft from its fleet, with two coming to us and four to Mango. So while the pie stayed pretty much the same size, the LCC share actually got bigger.”

Speaking specifically about safety concerns, Gordon added that while the South African Civil Aviation Authority had been quite active in grounding aircraft over concerns recently, he believed that this might actually reaffirm faith in the CAA’s ability and vigilance.


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