After just five weeks of operating US-South Africa services, World Airways decided not only to drop out of the route, but to drop out of scheduled passenger services for good. The airline will return to its niche as a contract carrier for airlines and the US military. The end of scheduled services also signals World's withdrawal from the highly competitive New York-Tel Aviv market.

These routes were largely responsible for the airline's second quarter net losses of $14 million, which includes the writedown on the scheduled services for the third and fourth quarter. World's chief executive Charles Pollard says that although 'loads were on the rise . . . a strategic review concluded that World should refocus on its profitable core business.'

That review must have identified World's failure to market its scheduled product successfully, especially in the Newark-Johannesburg market. Bob Williams, World's general sales agent in Johannesburg, says the codeshare signed with Continental Airlines earlier this year 'remained the best-kept secret in North America. We had planned on 60 per cent of our traffic coming from the US and paying US dollars for their tickets, with the balance coming from South Africa.' In fact these figures were almost reversed, resulting in much lower yields.

TWA and Tower Air have agreed to take World's passengers on New York-Tel Aviv, while SAA, now left as the only carrier with direct US-South African services, has put on a ninth weekly frequency to New York and will take any Johannesburg passengers booked on World.

R Makings/M Jennings

Source: Airline Business