Price cuts and flexible bookings from South African airlines

Lift started flying between Johannesburg and Cape Town, and Johannesburg and George, on 10 December and it enjoyed a strong performance over the last month.

Lift co-founder Gidon Novick told MyBroadband the airline served over 30,000 passengers in its first month and enjoyed excellent reliability.

“The feedback from our customers was overwhelmingly positive. The Lift team has been outstanding,” Novick said.

He said the flexibility that Lift offers, where clients can change or cancel tickets without any penalty, has gone down “really well”.

“We’ve removed so much of anxiety people have around travel, particularly during these uncertain times,” said Novick.

Lift’s entrance into the domestic airline market has also resulted in lower ticket prices thanks to increased competition.

Novick said ticket prices are on average about 40% lower since Lift started flying in December.

Lift’s success has been so significant that British Airways, which is operated by Comair, has now also launched flexible bookings.

This week British Airways introduced new booking options, giving customers the flexibility to change the dates and destination of a booking without any change fee.

“The airline’s book with confidence commitment allows customers to adapt to unforeseen circumstances as they need to,” said British Airways’ sales and marketing executive, Brian Kitchin.

“Customers can also cancel the booking and use the same value towards a future booking. There are no additional costs.”

At the same time, British Airways also launched a new seat sale with special pricing on 400,000 seats available until 22 January 2021.

Pricing starts at R450 from Johannesburg to Durban, R787 from Durban to Cape Town, and R719 from Johannesburg to Cape Town.

These one-way special fares include all taxes, a free 23kg bag, and one piece of hand luggage up to 7kg.

“We hope the flexibility that our book with confidence commitment provides together with exceptional fares are good reasons to book,” said Kitchin.

While low airfares and flexible bookings help to fuel the local airline industry, it remains under pressure because of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown restrictions.

Novick said they have already seen a significant drop-off in demand in the second half of January.

He added that it is impossible to predict future demand in the current environment, which means agility for airlines is critical.

Domestic flight prices

With low demand and increased competition, airfares are now much lower than what they were a year ago.

This raises the question of how ticket prices on the most popular route – Johannesburg to Cape Town – compare between the different airlines.

To answer this question, MyBroadband looked at the price for a single ticket on 25 January 2021. The prices were collected on 21 January 2021 for all tickets.

The analysis shows that ticket prices are extremely affordable and that there is much less variance than what was seen a month ago.

In December, a flight from Johannesburg and Cape Town cost anywhere between R585 and R3,953, depending on the time of day. The same flight now costs between R522 and R771.

The table below shows the flight prices for Lift, Kulula, FlySafair, BA, and Airlink between Johannesburg and Cape Town.

Johannesburg to Cape Town
Airline Date From To
FlySafair 25 January 2021 R522 R621
Lift 25 January 2021 R540 R540
BA 25 January 2021 R712 R712
Kulula 25 January 2021 R733 R733
Airlink 25 January 2021 R771 R771
Cape Town to Johannesburg
Airline Date From To
FlySafair 25 January 2021 R522 R621
Lift 25 January 2021 R540 R735
BA 25 January 2021 R712 R712
Kulula 25 January 2021 R733 R733
Airlink 25 January 2021 R771 R771

Now read: Lift starts flying – How its prices compare with Kulula, FlySafair, and Airlink

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Price cuts and flexible bookings from South African airlines