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South African Airways to withdraw Mumbai-Johannesburg connection effective April 2015

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In a recent development, South African Airways (SAA) has decided to pull out their direct Mumbai-Johannesburg flight, effective April 1, 2015. As part of its network optimisation exercise, thereafter the airline will be redirecting its flights to all Indian destinations via Abu Dhabi through its new direct service with onward code-share agreement connections with Etihad Airways and Jet Airways. Through the code-share agreements, the airline will service new destinations in India such as Delhi, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Chennai among others. Passengers booked on flights departing after the end date of the direct service will be accommodated on the reconfigured network.

As per the company communique, there has also been reconfiguration of flights between South Africa and China with code-share agreements also expanding airline network reach. Nico Bezuidenhout, acting CEO, South African Airways believes that optimisation of the airline network is an ongoing process and critical for their long term turnaround strategy. Connections between South Africa and major economic centres within two BRICS member states has been increased substantially while an immediate balance sheet gain curbs losses on challenging routes.

Commenting on the airline’s decision on withdrawal of the direct Mumbai-Johannesburg flights, Kapil Kaul, CEO-South Asia, Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) opined, “These are very complex decisions to move away from one route for one reason to get into a different route for a different reason The cost structure of South African Airways to compete was cost that they have on that route compared to revenue is always a challenge and the Middle East carrier is able to serve it as they consolidate traffic from all the points. Its a very different business. The airlines put in routes for 12-18 months and eventually when they don’t get it they withdraw because it is not about the revenue but about cost of operations. If the cost of operation is high given traditionally as government owned airlines have different cost of operations structure so we will invariablly see such things going forward. They have a codeshare alliance with Etihad Airways so they will be operating out of Abu Dhabi and there will be tremendous scope for connectivity.”

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