No hint yet as to the extent pressure from parent SAA or its rescue practitioners may have forced Mango into this move. Image: Moneyweb 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 March 31, 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. Moneyweb understands that Mango will move its entire operation in Johannesburg to OR Tambo International from April. This comes as parent South African Airways (SAA), currently under 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, where passengers expect onward connections to their final destinations.
If Mango doesn’t operate sufficient flights from OR Tambo onwards 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.
At the end of 2017, in its delayed 2016 annual report, SAA warned that: “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.”
End-destination challenge for SAA
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.
Read: Busting the myth that SAA is ‘necessary’ for tourism
Mango has not responded […]