SAA starts flying — How its prices compare with Kulula, FlySafair, and Lift

South African Airways (SAA) will take to the skies again on 23 September 2021, operating flights from Johannesburg to Cape Town, Accra, Kinshasa, Harare, Lusaka, and Maputo.

SAA acting CEO Thomas Kgokolo said they selected the routes where they have performed the best in the past to ensure they create a healthy cash flow.

“Our choice of routes was based and data and market demand, which is why we are not flying to Durban and other small cities,” Kgokolo said.

“We want to minimise cash burn by focussing on routes which give us a chance to compete and bring money into the business.”

The airline said it would add more destinations as it ramps up operations in response to market conditions.

Commenting on the SAA’s aircraft fleet, Kgokolo said they have enough aircraft to kickstart their operations.

He said for their Johannesburg-Cape Town route, they will use Airbus A319 planes. It is a narrow-body, twin-engine jet airliner built for short- to medium-range flights.

SAA employees are also keen to get back to business. “We have enough pilots who have been training. Cabin crew members have also been trained in line with regulatory requirements,” he said.

SAA is entering a crowded space, especially on the busy Johannesburg-Cape Town route.

Comair announced this week that its aircraft would start to fly again on 1 September, following a temporary suspension of services.

Comair, which operates Kulula and BA in South Africa, said it is now preparing its aircraft, flight and cabin crews, and airport personnel to ensure a seamless restart of services.

Apart from strong competition from Comair, SAA will also have to battle for market share against Lift, Airlink, and FlySafair.

Thomas Kgokolo
Acting SAA CEO Thomas Kgokolo

Kgokolo said they are well aware of the difficult market conditions and the competitive environment, which they do not take lightly.

“We believe the value proposition that we bring in phase one, supplemented by the value proposition that we will add on in phase two, should allow us to compete strongly,” he said.

Kgokolo’s claim about a strong value proposition raises the question as to how SAA’s pricing compares to other local airlines.

MyBroadband looked at the price for a single ticket on 30 September 2021 for flights between Johannesburg and Cape Town to answer this question.

The results showed that flight prices start from R805 for a flight between Cape Town and Johannesburg, and R1,215 between Johannesburg and Cape Town.

Lift has the lowest overall price, while SAA was also competitively priced in both directions.

A surprise was the Kulula was by far the most expensive, with prices three times higher than that of Lift.

The table below provides an overview of the flight prices between Johannesburg and Cape Town for SAA, Kulula, Lift, Airlink, FlySafair, and BA.

Johannesburg to Cape Town
Airline Date Minimum Maximum
Lift 30 September 2021 R1,215 R1,300
Airlink 30 September 2021 R1,224 R2,213
SAA 30 September 2021 R1,268 R3,188
FlySafair 30 September 2021 R1,321 R1,821
BA 30 September 2021 R1,430 R1,591
Kulula 30 September 2021 R3,220 R3,220
Cape Town to Johannesburg
Airline Date Minimum Maximum
Lift 30 September 2021 R805 R1,150
SAA 30 September 2021 R914 R3,188
FlySafair 30 September 2021 R920 R1,222
Airlink 30 September 2021 R971 R2,213
BA 30 September 2021 R1,268 R1,591
Kulula 30 September 2021 R2,818 R3,220

Now read: New SAA takes flight next month

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SAA starts flying — How its prices compare with Kulula, FlySafair, and Lift