HILKA BIRNS / CAPE TOWN
A new South African no-frills carrier, 1time, will launch services this month after securing an air service licence.
According to chief executive Glenn Orsmond, details of the start-up date and fares, expected to be the lowest in the South African market, will be announced this month. The airline has acquired two Boeing MD-82s from US-based Centec Aviation to operate three return flights a day between Johannesburg and Cape Town seven days a week. It plans to add another service to Cape Town and a daily flight to Durban later this year. 1time will sell its fares exclusively on the internet and via a call centre.
The company's management hails almost entirely from South Africa's only other low-fare carrier Kulula.com, a subsidiary of Comair, where Orsmond had been financial director. Black empowerment company Mogwele Investments, co-owned by former Transnet executive director Zukile Nomvete, has acquired a 20% stake in the start-up.
South Africa's domestic market is already overcrowded, with six other domestic carriers struggling to survive and 1time's entry is expected to spark a price war.
Orsmond aims to keep the competitive edge thanks to lower overheads than his competitors: "We can start with a clean slate because we're not locked into union agreements governing the wages of pilots and crew, and we're taking advantage of the window of opportunity offered by the stronger rand and cheaper aircraft after 9/11."
Meanwhile, South Africa's aviation regulator and the Association of South African Travel Agents issued a warning to consumers and travel agents after another start-up, Maiden Air, advertised flights from Johannesburg and Cape Town to London Stansted without having the necessary air service licence.
Source: Flight International