Overview of the Airline Industry

In 2011, a roadmap for the aviation industry of South Africa was presented by the Department of Transport to address the weaknesses of the industry. According to the Director General of the department, George Mahlalela, stricter rules and regulations were required so that negotiations and dealing within the industry would be more transparent and efficient.

In 2012, a year after the announcement, the aviation industry in the country was able to contribute 74 billion rand to the country’s coffers as well as maintain a record of 230,000 jobs in direct and indirectly related businesses. In fact, buying airline tickets online is even more popular than price comparison sites like www.uPrice.co.za.

Just recently, FlightStats, a force in the global flight and information services industry reported that South Africa Airways or SAA became the world’s most punctual airline company in the world.  SAA received a performance ratio of 93.33% for arriving and leaving on time.

SAA is the country’s flag carrier and its General Manager for Operations, Mr. Zuks Ramasia attributes their most recent accolade to the company’s employees. SAA flies to all but one continent with a 54 strong fleet of aircrafts flying to 194 countries and about 7 million people every year. SAA was also recognized by Skytax World Airline as the best airline in Africa during their 50th Paris Air Show. Skytax awards are considered as the world’s most prestigious awards for airline companies. This recent award is the 11th year for SAA and is based on customer satisfaction surveys with ratings required for 40 performance key points in the airline industry.

According to IATA or the International Air Transport Association, last year South Africa was the top country in the African region in terms of passengers with a total of 20.4 million. For the Asia-Pacific region, the top country was China with over 360 million; for Europe it was the UK with over 171 million; and for North America it was the United States with 598.2 million passengers.

IATA also mentioned in their 2012 annual report that it was the developing economies that drove the demand growth with a market share of 65%. They further stressed that premium travel dipped while economy travel grew. This problem could well be attributed to a tough macro-economy where businesses, including everything from ecommerce sites like uPrice.co.za to large corporates, are experiencing the effects of a depressed market.

Aside from SAA, the country has over 2 dozen airlines that fly domestic and international flights. The country has 8 vital airport links to other countries in the African region, North America, Europe, Australia, Asia, Oceana, Center East and South America. There are 7 cities with international airports and quite a number of smaller airports. The 7 international airports are located Durban, Cape City, Johannesburg, Solar City, Mmbatho, Polokwane, and Nelspruit.

South Africans enjoy flying especially when considering just how large the country is and how long it would take to get from Point A to Point B. Many goods are also transported via air flight because it is practical and more efficient.

Booking flights, making inquiries or reservations and paying for the tickets can all be done online and on one website. There have been past issues of airline ticket scams but it would appear that these have been addressed as well as the data online security of airline websites and travel agencies.