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Need to travel in August - who's flying now?

Another month has heralded another change in what's allowed or not allowed in the realm of travel in South Africa. What's more, airlines are increasingly changing schedules and grounding flights, which only adds to the confusion involved in getting airborne.
Need to travel in August - who's flying now?Here’s what you need to know when the time comes for you to be in the air again.

FlySafair

FlySafair has managed to stay wings up throughout the pandemic offering domestic flights between Cape Town, Johannesburg, George, Gqeberha, Durban and East London in line with the various travel regulations.

The airline recently added flights between Bloemfontein and Cape Town from 30 July 2021.

With a fleet of 17 aircraft, and a history of being ‘on-time’, FlySafair has become South Africa’s largest domestic carrier.

CemAir is still aloft

Reluctant to harm consumer trust, CemAir has maintained its flight schedule regardless of lockdown restrictions and considerable losses over the past few months.

So far, the airline’s seen a 25% decrease in bookings even before the new lockdown measures, due to uncertainty in the face of ever-changing coronavirus legislation.

CemAir flies eight aircraft from Johannesburg to Cape Town, Bloemfontein, and Durban as well as in and out of smaller regional airports.

Lift is back in the air

South Africa’s new airline, Lift, opted to roll with the punches, suspending flights during July and reopening on 1 August. Their flexible booking platform allows customers to amend their booking easily online without penalties, apart from rate discrepancies.

Despite this flexibility, the airline also suffered thousands more cancellations than expected during July. Its unique business model should allow it to weather the storm with most customers happy to postpone rather than insist on a refund for the bookings.

Like most domestic carriers, Lift executives remain positive in the light of these changes and are banking on increasing vaccinations to get things back on track.

Lift currently offers weekly flights between Johannesburg and Cape Town.

Airlink is up and running

Like Lift, Airlink flights resumed on 1 August. The airline temporarily suspended flights during July in the wake of restrictions as well as disruptions in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

With the suspension of services by other airlines, Airlink announced that it will resume air services between Johannesburg - George from 15 August 2021.

In full flight, Airlink offers 18 domestic destinations and flies to the DRC, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia, Uganda, Botswana, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. The airline also offers a lodge link service to popular safari airstrips.

Delta Airlines resumes international flights

In the midst of all the uncertainty, Delta airlines has scheduled its new Airbus A350-900neo to fly between Johannesburg and Atlanta from August 2.

This service runs thrice weekly, allowing access to a further 150 US destinations from its Atlanta hub.

Comair grounded until 31 August

As South Africa went into adjusted lockdown level 4, Comair suspended all its flights until 30 July 2021, but they’ve recently extended this to 31 August. Comair operates both British Airways and Mango Airlines in South Africa.

The airline took this decision based on the best interests of its passengers and employees, but it hasn’t made things any easier for the airline.

Without Government support for the aviation sector, airlines are finding it increasingly difficult to plan for the future, especially with all the variables currently in play.

As a result, the 75-year-old airline has had to approach the Comair Rescue Consortium for additional funding to stay afloat while its aeroplanes are on the ground. The airline has been under administration since December 2020 but remains confident that things will pick up once the vaccine rollout gains momentum.

Mango Airlines in business rescue

Mango Airlines, a subsidiary of the long-suffering South African Airways, has entered business rescue. This comes after ongoing restrictions on travel and grounding of the airline’s fleet earlier this year due to financial challenges.

On the other hand, SAA has since exited the business rescue process but has not committed to a firm start-up for flights.

When it does take off again, it will be under the guidance of Johannesburg-based Global Airways and Harith General Partners, who now have a 51% stake in the company.

The government will settle the airline’s existing debt and then step into the role of minority shareholder with no further financial say-so.

The developing situation

There are still plenty of options for business and leisure travellers across the country as long as you adhere to the necessary safety precautions.

Recent relaxations regarding travel restrictions bode well for domestic airlines and as the vaccination programmes continues to progress, there’s bound to be more good news on the cards for travellers soon.

10 Aug 2021 11:01

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