South African carriers want to spread wings in Indian skies

Written by Shaheen Mansuri | Mumbai, Oct 12 | Updated: Oct 15 2007, 05:48am hrs
To tap the growing air traffic between S outh Africa and India , the former will seek more air traffic rights into India . Currently, South African Airways serves the Delhi-Johannesburg (thrice a week) and Mumbai-Johannesburg (four times a week) routes. Essop Pahad, minister in the Presidency Republic of South Africa who was in the city to promote trade relations between India and his country, told FE that currently, 50,000 passengers fly to South African destinations. Pahad sees no reason why this figure should not touch one million within two years.

Sadiq Jaffer, chief director, department of trade and industry, South Africa added that smaller regional airlines like kulula.com, 1time and Mango will also spread their wings to India once the business relations between South Africa and India further strengthen.

Pahad said that after the UK , Europe and US, South African destinations are the most sought after for Indian travellers, and the time is not far when the entire focus will shift to that country due to its emerging economy and leisure destinations. He added that currently, trade between India and South Africa stands at $4 billion and is likely to touch $12 billion by 2010. With the growth in trade, airline services between the two countries will also see a growth.

Said Pahad, There are emerging investment opportunities in Cape Town , Johannesburg and Durban among other destinations in South Africa . Discussions between the two countries are on to set up joint ventures in sectors like hospitality, energy and infrastructure projects.

He said that increased volumes of air traffic between South Africa and India has resulted in India-based Jet Airways to soon start services between the two countries, once the airline completes some basic formalities with the Indian government. In future, I see both the countries having more traffic rights in each others countries, thereby promoting healthy competition, said Pahad, adding that South African Airways is already a member of the Star Alliance, a group of 17 airlines worldwide who share airport lounges, frequent flier schemes and use the member airlines for a connecting flight, thereby saving a lot of time for travellers.