FlySafair’s Kirby Gordon

FlySafair is considering introducing a number of regional routes and has applied for rights to fly between Johannesburg’s ORTIA and Mauritius, Zanzibar and Windhoek. The airline has applied for three weekly flights for all of these destinations and will know if its applications have been approved within the next month.

FlySafair’s chief marketing officer, Kirby Gordon, says the airline has been eyeing these routes for a while and decided that it may as well get the ball rolling with the application process sooner rather than later. Kirby explains that airline flight applications are publicly gazetted before being reviewed by the Department of Transport’s International Air Services Council. This process usually takes about a month.

Kirby stresses that the airline has a lot to do before it would be in a position to launch any of these routes and says that, in many ways, the flight applications are a way for the airline to keep its options open at a time when the domestic flight market (that it has traditionally played in) is very depressed.

“During August, FlySafair operated at about 14% of our August 2019 seat capacity and we continue to suffer losses while so few of our aircraft are in the air. We urgently need to find new opportunities to deploy aircraft and, at a time when so many regional competitors are operating under conditions of business rescue, this may be a good time to expand our route network in this direction,” says Kirby.

He adds that there would be a lot of work to do before FlySafair was in a position to launch any of these routes. Amongst other things, it would need to correctly equip its aircraft for international trips, establish a presence in the various international departure halls, gear up its technology to be able to collect and process the necessary passport and visa information and put processes in place for the repatriation of international currency.

“We will only be in a position to look at launching these routes in 2021 at the earliest, and even this is dependent on many factors, including the recovery of the domestic market,” says Kirby.