How to avoid paying ridiculous air ticket prices in South Africa this festive

Posted on 14 October 2022 By Olerato Ramafsi

South Africa’s limited airlines are set to see a ticket price hike for holidaymakers ahead of the festive season.

Airlines want to pull out of SA due to travel restrictions

Aviation analyst Desmond Latham told ENCA that the collapse of the rand, the drop-off of domestic South African Airways (SAA) and Comair combined with increased demand for air travel, will push ticket prices much higher than usual during the coming peak travel period.

Latham advised South African travellers to book well in advance and plan ahead to avoid paying nearly double. He said, for example, if you were to look at prices in March for a return flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town, it was R2400; currently, it is around R6000.

Cape Town International sees increase in flights

It may take up to two years until prices stabilise, he noted. He added that this is, in part, the nature of supply and demand during busy travel seasons; however, the current situation at airports across the country has aggravated the usual uptick in prices.

Concerns over price gouging stretches back to March of this year when the Competition Commission cautioned airlines against price gouging after the grounding of domestic British Airways and umbrella company, Comair.

There is also a tendency for airlines to hike prices around this time of year, said Latham. However, in light of the heightened cost of living and the South African middle class facing economic headwinds this year, the extent to which airlines can stretch prices has lessened.

‘As the volume goes up, the prices go up naturally, but unlike in the ’70s or ’80s when airlines could print money – the current economy does not allow that,’ said Latham.

He added that South Africa is not alone in facing airline constraints and heightened ticket prices, the international community, including the US and AUS, are facing similar issues.

The analyst provided the following tips to Business Insider for people seeking to travel in light of heightened costs:

  • Plan quicker and ahead of time ‘You cannot drop everything and fly to Cape Town,’ Spontaneity will cost you.
  • Booking in October is already cutting it fine, but for future reference, the earlier the better.
  • Look at alternative days to fly. Busy routes, such as between Joburg and Cape Town, can have good deals on off-peak days.
  • See if you can alter your holiday dates. Flying just before the 16th of December could inflict the highest costs.
  • Look at the alternative airlines that may operate smaller, more cost-effective planes.

Only four of the eight domestic airlines that served South Africa before Covid-19 are still in business: FlySafair, Lift, CemAir and Airlink.

Other airlines like SA Express, Kulula, British Airways and Mango have either been grounded or shut down, significantly reducing the amount of available space for flights.

Operational costs for airlines have also hit record highs, with the price of jet fuel hitting record highs and the consistency of its supply remaining questionable.

There have been two instances of jet fuel shortages across South Africa, the latest being towards the end of September when the Airline Association of Southern Africa (AASA) warned of a lack of jet fuel at Cape Town International Airport.

Pictures: Getaway gallery

ALSO READ: 6 travel trends among South Africans planning for the Festive Season

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