FlySafair slams Lift and Airlink for trying to ground it

FlySafair chief marketing officer Kirby Gordon says the company’s competitors should work on improving themselves, rather than trying to disrupt FlySafair’s operations for allegedly breaching foreign ownership laws.

Speaking to City Press, Gordon noted that any airline can have a 25% foreign investor, which FlySafair has.

He added that he doesn’t see how the company’s external investor gives FlySafair any competitive advantage and that FlySafair hasn’t required foreign investment since its launch in 2013.

When it applied for a licence to run its airline at the time, the now-defunct Comair and Skywise took it to court, saying its Irish owner, ASL Aviation Holdings, didn’t comply with local ownership laws.

As a result, the company was grounded and restructured to meet legal requirements, and relaunched in 2014.

Gordon questioned why its competitors had laid fresh complaints, saying nothing had changed at the low-cost carrier from an ownership perspective.

His comments came after Lift lodged complaints with South Africa’s domestic and international air service licencing councils. Airlink also complained to the international council.

Gordon said the complaint came after FlySafair applied for additional rights to increase the frequency of its flights between Johannesburg and Harare.

Since its relaunch in 2014, FlySafair has grown to 60% of the domestic flight market in South Africa, which its competitors say is due to an unfair market advantage resulting from illegal foreign ownership.

The domestic carrier recently celebrated its tenth birthday, marking the occasion by selling 50,000 tickets on select flights for R10.

Kirby Gordon, chief marketing officer at FlySafair

FlySafair holds a birthday sale each year, with ticket prices increasing by R1 each year as its age increases.

Those who want to participate in the sale must visit the FlySafair website and enter a queuing system.

People in the queue are then randomly selected to receive an opportunity to buy a discounted ticket.

FlySafair says the chances of getting a R10 ticket are down to pure luck.

This year, one developer found a loophole that could have allowed people to bypass the waiting room.

MyBroadband reader Charl Kruger discovered that he could bypass the queue using Chrome developer tools and incognito mode, which prevents cookie collection.

Kruger attempted to notify FlySafair of the exploit via its social media pages, but his posts were deleted despite not revealing further details.

MyBroadband easily replicated the exploit and notified FlySafair at around 15:00 on the day of the sale to set up a coordinated disclosure for the vulnerability.

Gordon thanked MyBroadband, and the FlySafair team rapidly fixed the issue.

There was no evidence that the vulnerability had been exploited, as thousands of tickets were still available by late afternoon.

FlySafair said the sale was a huge success, with the website recording 1.7 million unique devices on the day.

Gordon added that 16,000 devices managed to get through the waiting room to make R10 bookings, working out to less than 1% of devices.

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FlySafair slams Lift and Airlink for trying to ground it