Wednesday, November 21, 2012

► SOUTH AFRICA: New LCC airline Skywise to launch in Q1 2013 using 737-300s.

As previously reported by The African Aviation Tribune, the original founders of defunct South African LCC 1Time have indeed revealed that they are planning to launch a brand new low-cost carrier, called Skywise, in South Africa during the first 3 months of 2013.

Skywise's founders include: ex-1Time honchos Rodney James and Glenn Orsmond, ex-1Time Chief Information Officer, Michael Kaminski, and Johan Borstlap, a former director at defunct domestic carrier Sun Air. Investment is said to be coming from "a BEE (Black Economic Empowerment) component as well as investment from a Dubai-based aviation company looking to expand into Africa."

Regarding their target market and business plan, James said:
Rodney James
Rodney James (algoa)
"The LCC model works and is the only model on a growth path, worldwide. Keeping fares as low as possible is what grows markets, builds economies and creates jobs. The legacy model is a dying beast. We can’t wait to create jobs and grow the air travel market.

With its AOC still in the offing, Skywise is due to launch in the first quarter of next year using two leased Boeing 737-300s, with flights between Johannesburg's OR Tambo International Airport and Cape Town International Airport. It plans to expand the network as market shares grow.

How competitive their choice of 737-300s is will show in the long run, as fellow carrier Comair moves to replace their fleet of Boeing 737-300s/400s, deemed not to be cost effective in today's world of $100+/barrel oil prices. In fact, the demise of 1Time itself was partly blamed on an ageing inefficient fleet.

CEO Erik Venter, in a recent interview with South African aviation magazine, SA Flyer stated:
"If you look at a per sector basis, a 737-400 uses about 10% more fuel than an -800. And that’s per sector! If you look at it per seat, you are comparing 165 seats to 189 seats, so the fuel burn is around 26% less per seat! If we were to compare the -800 to the -300, which are the ones that we are actually replacing, then the -300s’ 117 seats (with BA) to the -800s’ 189 seats in kulula is around 65% more efficient per seat!"