South African low-cost carrier FlySafair announced at the beginning of the month that it was launching new routes on its network. These will be between Durban and East London and Durban and Port Elizabeth.
The new routes will be in operation by the end of November. The decision to implement these routes followed a survey of 29 000 unique respondents. This survey was carried out to determine which, out of a number of proposed alternative routes, the public most desired.
The routes offered included the two mentioned, as well as Cape Town-Bloemfontein, Cape Town–Nelspruit, Durban–George, Lanseria–Bloemfontein and Lanseria–Cape Town. The most popular of the proposed routes, supported by 54% of those surveyed, was, in fact, Cape Town–Nelspruit. The two routes chosen for implementation came second (Durban–East London, 15%) and third (Durban–Port Elizabeth, 12%).
“Public appetite for a new route is naturally a massive consideration when launching new routes,” said FlySafair distribution and sales head Kirby Gordon. “But there are some other important factors that have to fall into place, including utilisation of aircraft and crew and [airport landing and takeoff] slot compliance.”
There are, he pointed out, three crucial elements that airlines examine when deciding on new routes. These are the relationship between passenger demand and the seating capacity of their airliners (too few passengers per flight make a route uneconomical); efficiency (essential for low-cost operators – maximising the available flying hours for both aircraft and aircrew while ensuring that, at the end of the flying day, the latter sleep in their own beds); and the availability of airport takeoff and landing slots.
“Looking at all these factors, the Durban to East London and Durban to Port Elizabeth links are the ones that made the most business sense,” he affirmed. “The interest in the Cape Town–Nelspruit route is very encouraging and we’ll certainly keep looking into it too.”
Key Approval for New Cape Town Runway
Meanwhile, separately, at the end of last month, State-owned Airports Company South Africa announced that Cape Town International Airport (CTIA) had received authorisation from the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) to proceed with its planned runway realignment and other infrastructural developments required. “We are indeed pleased to have reached this milestone within the environmental assessment process,” affirmed CTIA GM Deon Cloete. “It has required a great deal of planning and continuing engagement with communities to get to this point.” To date, the process has involved almost four years of planning, assessment and significant public consultation.
The DEA’s authorisation covers both the realignment of, and extensions to, the runway, as well as the required new taxiways and aircraft parking stands. “This runway project is not only about the growth of the airport – it’s about unlocking the growth potential of Cape Town and the Western Cape and we are pleased to be able to further contribute to the development of the region,” he pointed out.
The DEA’s decision was the outcome of a thorough examination of an environmental impact assessment by independent environmental consultancy SRK Consulting. This included submissions by various interested and affected parties. In making its decision, the DEA used processes and criteria established in the Environmental Management Act.
SRK Consulting had to inform all interested and affected parties within 12 days of the DEA’s decision of that decision. It also had to advertise the environmental authorisation more widely. Appeals against the DEA’s determination are possible, but notification of such appeals must be lodged with the department within 20 days of its authorisation being issued.
This environmental authorisation does not mark the end of the environmental impact assessment process. “We still have a way to go and, if all approvals are received, at best, construction is estimated to begin mid-2018,” noted Cloete. “We will continue to follow a fair and responsible approach to this development.”