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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is an important question that comes up now and again, and has just been raised by annman. Is South Africa under served with airports and airline services outside of the 3 main cities?

Every single LCC offers the golden triangle - big deal, this leads to oversupply and the current issues.

But the real growth in SA air travel, as with the rest of Africa, is the untapped markets. ONe only has to look at the growth in Pietermaritzburg to understand that a city that was always seen as too close to Durban to support flights can go from 0 to over 100000 people annually through its airport in less than 2 years. And this is with one operator with rather expensive ticket prices.

Vast portions of SA are under serviced. The entire interior of the Eastern Cape, the inland parts of the Western Cape, the entire North West. New airports needed? Help the road death tolls?

Bloem, East London and Georgre could do better if there were better connections to them from more cities.

Kimberly, Upington, Polokwane are only served by JHB, and little by Cape Town. And all by expensive tickets.

Surely there is potential to get the people in these cities flying instead of driving? and connecting them and all cities in SA to more destinations?

Continualy pumping just the golden triangle, means a one dimensional aviation industry in SA.
 

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Annman
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^^ I was honestly just thinking about a small airport at Beaufort West, halfway point between Bloem and CT. The Karoo is completely untapped.

An airport at BFW could capture De Aar, Loxton, Carnarvon, Victoria West, Williston, Fraserburg, Laingsburg, Prince Albert, Graaff-Reinet, Aberdeen, Noupoort, Middelberg, Richmond, De Aar, Hanover, potentially even Cradock, Somerset East and Cookhouse. These people fly less, by virtue that airports are out of reach...

Perhaps a once ever other day small flight to JNB and CPT respectively?

Then Potchefstroom, Klerksdorp, Welkom... three large centres, completely unserved by a regional airport and JNB is very inconvenient to drive to. I don't see flights from here to JNB, but what about a small daily to CPT and ever-other day to DUR?

Of course, PMB, ELZ and UPT are moot... these could see phenomenal growth if offered cost effective options.

IMO, there are definitely gaps in the market and parts of SA are grossly neglected by air-travel.
 

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BOFH Extraordinaire
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As a vague connection to the Virginia Airport thread,

I think in a way, moving the GA airport up to Cato Ridge so that it could serve both PMB and the Upper Highway area of DBN would be a very bold move but I think it could pay off big time.

Cato Ridge as an airport if I could use it to get to JHB and CPT would be great... its closer than King Shaka, and I live in Pinetown... and I'm sure many people in Hillcrest/Kloof/Gillitts would be even keener to use it if the ticket prices were reasonable.
 

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My only concern would be the actual need for these additional flights and, more importantly, who'll pay for introducing the services? As it is the airline industry struggles to keep its head above water without major government backing.

Somehow these flight will have to be VERY competitive from a price point of view...but how do you get around in the cities once you've landed??? The usual public transport questions...

Then again, its the usual chicken and egg scenario...we won't know until it gets started and no-one will try it until its in place...
 

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Karoo Prime
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^^

An airport at BFW could capture De Aar, Loxton, Carnarvon, Victoria West, Williston, Fraserburg, Laingsburg, Prince Albert, Graaff-Reinet, Aberdeen, Noupoort, Middelberg, Richmond, De Aar, Hanover, potentially even Cradock, Somerset East and Cookhouse. These people fly less, by virtue that airports are out of reach...
I don't see why people would drive 210km from Graaff-Reinet to BFW when they could drive 250km to Port Elizabeth. Similarly, Cradock is only 248km from PE (but 341km from BFW), Somerset East is 181km from PE (but 324km from BFW), and Cookhouse is 166km from PE (but 348km from BFW). Beaufort West is only 63km closer to Laingsburg than Cape Town International. Noupoort is actually closer to Bloemfontein than to Beaufort West. So I am not sure it would be viable.
 

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Annman
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My only concern would be the actual need for these additional flights and, more importantly, who'll pay for introducing the services? As it is the airline industry struggles to keep its head above water without major government backing.

Somehow these flight will have to be VERY competitive from a price point of view...but how do you get around in the cities once you've landed??? The usual public transport questions...
First concern is valid, however, if your only competition is WAY overpriced, it may be possible to corner the market with fair-priced fares on smaller, fuel efficient planes.

The 2nd point is not really valid however, most SAfricans are not used to going to and from the airport with public transit. I don't think such concerns with perturb them in smaller towns/cities.

OK: Valid point about the Karoo CaissonBoy, one forgets how friggin far things are spaced out in the interior.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
My only concern would be the actual need for these additional flights and, more importantly, who'll pay for introducing the services? As it is the airline industry struggles to keep its head above water without major government backing.

Somehow these flight will have to be VERY competitive from a price point of view...but how do you get around in the cities once you've landed??? The usual public transport questions...

Then again, its the usual chicken and egg scenario...we won't know until it gets started and no-one will try it until its in place...
but is the airline industry struggling so much becuse all players remain far too one dimensional? What on earth makes one different from the other besides the colour of their planes? there is no diversity in route offering, nothing that makes any of them unique and therefore a competitive advantage, except maybe for kulula's stronghold in lanseria.

More people in SA need to be connected to air services to serve as a total knock on package... because the real stimulus, rail, is a long way off
 

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I don't see why people would drive 210km from Graaff-Reinet to BFW when they could drive 250km to Port Elizabeth. Similarly, Cradock is only 248km from PE (but 341km from BFW), Somerset East is 181km from PE (but 324km from BFW), and Cookhouse is 166km from PE (but 348km from BFW). Beaufort West is only 63km closer to Laingsburg than Cape Town International. Noupoort is actually closer to Bloemfontein than to Beaufort West. So I am not sure it would be viable.
With the shorter distances I could much rather see high speed rail being the most cost-effective option. The "longer" distances makes sense...Anything less than a 45min flight (eg Bloem/Joburg) is a bit of a waste from a cost & time point of view. Recently flew between Frankfurt and Basel in CH and the time to just get to/from the plane adds so much time whereas the same trip on one of the ICE trains is an absolute pleasure AND it takes only slightly longer.
 

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^^ I agree. If the flight is shorter than the time it takes to get in the air after you've checked in, then it becomes a bit silly! That said, we don't unfortunately have the luxury of choosing between flying and high-speed rail.

As an example, take the PLZ-ELS route. In the time it takes to get to the airport, park your car, check in, go to the departures area and eventually take off, you can drive at a leisurely pace and be past Grahamstown already! An hour later and you are in East London!

Doing a quick check on SAA's website, brings up a return Economy ticket for around R3000! :eek:hno:
 

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Karoo Prime
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The Western Cape and Northern Cape, as well as the western half of the Eastern Cape are very sparsely populated. But the eastern half of the Eastern Cape is a different story, and I can see smaller airports working for places like Mtatha and Queenstown. Same applies to the eastern Freestate, for a place like Phuthaditjhaba, which is huge, for instance. And then maybe some place like Newcastle or Richard's Bay.
 

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Annman
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^^ See key is, not serving airports from another within 400km. The closest a short flight becomes somewhat viable is CPT-GRJ.

Example:
Imagine there's an airport at Klerksdorp that serves Potch, Welkom, Lichtenburg and environs. You would not have scheduled services to JNB (too close), but perhaps a daily or 4-times weekly flight to CPT and DUR respectively.

If you had a more regular service to Mthatha, you wouldn't serve ELZ, but perhaps DUR 3-times weekly and perhaps JNB daily and CPT 4-times weekly.

Imagine there was a Ladysmith Airport, serving Newcastle, Harrismith, Estcourt, Dundee and environs; then you may not have a flight to JNB or DUR, but perhaps to CPT, although with JNB being a huge hub, maybe a few flights a week.

Granted, distance and time to check in and in transit versus just jumping in the car is a huge factor, but there is scope for more LCC offerings to underserved parts of the nation, particularly existing destinations like BFN, KIM, UPT, ELZ and even ex-Transkei.
 

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Explore
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I doubt there's the demand for more airports to be served. Flying just a couple of times a week isn't worth it for an airline and using smaller aircraft would result in high fares. The only way I see some of these smaller towns being served is if someone comes up with something creative like Sentaco.
It would be nice to see current routes outside of the golden triangle being developed but then again the LCC's have tried with mixed results.

To me Welkom and Newcastle seem like they could fit into Airlink's network.
 

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Karoo Prime
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And Polokwane.
 

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I also don't believe there's much need for more airports, but rather competition with smaller aircraft on several routes. Ideally LCC operations can be done with 70-74 seater prop-planes like the Q400 that SA Express operates. This does not necessarily mean the same low fares like we see on the main routes, but could at least bring prices down.
For instance on CPT-GRJ where lowest one-way price is R1300, fares can start with a competitor from R800 perhaps. The following is where I believe such service can be done:
JNB-BFN (2 x daily)
JNB-KIM (daily)
JNB-Pietermaritzburg (daily)
JNB-Nelspruit/Kruger (daily)
JNB-Richards Bay (daily)
JNB-Polokwane (daily)
JNB-Upington (3/4 weekly)
JNB-Margate (3/4 weekly)
JNB-Umtata (3/4 weekly)
JNB-Bisho (3/4 weekly)
CPT-GRJ (daily)
CPT-ELS (daily)
CPT-PLZ (2 x daily)
CPT-BFN (daily)
CPT-KIM (3/4 weekly)
CPT-Pietermaritzburg (3/4 weekly)
CPT-Umtata (2/3 weekly)
DUR-PLZ (2 x daily)
DUR-ELS (daily)
DUR-BFN (daily)
DUR-GRJ (3/4 weekly)
DUR-Nelspruit (3/4 weekly)

Only route maybe that can do with such size aircraft as well, serving Sun City/Rustenburg - Cape Town

For connecting other un/underserved routes an even smaller commuter service is needed with say 19-seater aircraft, like Jetsream31, Beech 1900D...this is not so uncommon, found around the world. Obviously these will be with higher fares. Routes like:
PLZ-ELS
PLZ-GRJ
PLZ-BFN
PLZ-Pietermaritzburg
PLZ-Nelspruit
PLZ-KIM
ELS-GRJ
ELS-BFN
ELS-KIM
GRJ-BFN
BFN-Nelspruit
DUR-KIM
DUR-Umtata
DUR-Polokwane
DUR-SunCity

Maybe also few unserved destinations from JNB, like yes Welkom and Newcastle, Mafikeng and Ulundi.
Anything else within 200km from another airport should rather stay that way (and yes with that I'm discarding ideas for Oudtshoorn and Plettenberg Bay).
For now such projects will be a financial gamble, as can be seen in Spain, where several smaller airports were upgraded or newly built no too far from others...now closed, was underwritten by banks.
 

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I doubt additional airports would be viable, as convenient as they would be. Much of the interior of SA is too sparsely populated. If we had decent light rail services to these areas I believe they would be more then sufficient.
 

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Annman
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^^ Good list GRJPlanes. Just forgot CPT-UPT. Northern Capies LOVE to come to Cape Town rather than to Johannesburg for their "city breakaway and shopping excursions." Plus, often their families are in the Cape and their kids go either to boarding school or varsity down here.
 
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