Monday, February 25, 2013

► SOUTH AFRICA: Area gynaecologist ventures into airline market with PE - East London flights.

BluCraneAir logoNew South African domestic startup, Blu Crane Air, the brainchild of Port Elizabeth gynaecologist Dr Marcus van Heerden, is to start operations in the coming weeks (tentatively 4 March) between the Eastern Cape towns of Port Elizabeth and East London in South Africa using six-seater twin-engine Cessna 414 aircraft.

Blu Crane Air, Port Elizabeth
Blu Crane Air (BlueCraneAir)
Van Heerden said the idea to start the airline came when he noticed the need for an easy and efficient way for business people to travel between the two cities "without the hustle and bustle of busy airports and long, tedious check-in queues".
"The idea was born while discussing with colleagues the woes of travelling by vehicle between the two cities. The airline will be a simple and more cost-effective way for companies to send representatives between cities," he said.
With a single one way ticket costing USD180 (ZAR1600) and a same-day return USD283 (ZAR2500) to make the 300km journey, Van Heerden claims he is aiming at the business niche market.

Currently, SA Airlink (4Z) plies the route twice daily on weekdays.

South Africa's poorest province, the Eastern Cape suffers from poorly maintained infrastructure with the main N2 highway, linking the province's major cities of Port and Elizabeth and East London, being rendered, on occasion, impassable during the rainy season. 

As a result, a number of private ad-hoc charter operations have sprung up in the Eastern Cape area, with the most recent example being of a man offering a 20 minute ride from Port Elizabeth to the backwater palookaville of Grahamstown for USD57 (ZAR500) one way.