Mango joins SAA in cancelling flights

State-owned low-cost airline Mango will halt all flights to and from Lanseria International Airport at the end of March 2020.

Mango currently operates Cape Town, Durban and Zanzibar routes from the airport north-west of Johannesburg. It is only accepting bookings until 31 March, with no clarity yet on how passengers booked on flights after this date will be “re-accommodated”.

According to Mango’s published flight schedule, it has 21 weekly return flights to Cape Town, 36 to Durban and one to Zanzibar.

This comes as parent South African Airways, currently in business rescue, will cease all domestic flights with the exception of a limited service to Cape Town at the end of February.

SAA’s decision to cease operating on these domestic routes will see Mango, via its codeshare agreement, accommodate inbound passengers from regional and international destinations. The hub strategy pursued by the flag carrier means that all this traffic routes through OR Tambo International Airport, where passengers expect onward connections to their final destinations.

If Mango doesn’t operate sufficient flights from OR Tambo onward to Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth, George and East London, SAA will not be able offer those (end) destinations to travellers transiting through OR Tambo. Significant challenges

At the end of 2017, in its delayed 2016 annual report, SAA warned: “The Cape Town/Johannesburg route, which is the largest connecting point in SAA’s network, experienced significant challenges from local and international operators. Increased capacity deployed by LCCs (low-cost carriers) and additional capacity from international operators eroded demand on the Durban route, which was the best-performing domestic route in the previous year. However, since late 2015, significant additional capacity from international markets was diverted to these subsidiary gateways resulting in the bypassing of our main hub, OR Tambo International Airport.”

If SAA cannot offer sufficient frequency to end-destinations in South Africa, travellers will be forced into choosing alternatives, such as British Airways (which offers seamless connecting through its franchise agreement with Comair) and Kulula, which operates certain flights under codeshare with Air France, KLM and Kenya Airways. Right now, travellers only consider these alternatives.

Mango has not responded to requests for comment.

An SAA Boeing 747 photographed near OR Tambo International Airport. Image: Bob Adams

It is not clear to what extent pressure from parent SAA or its business rescue practitioners (BRPs) forced Mango into this move. It is likely that further details will be included in the business rescue plan expected to be published by […]

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