Football fans travelling to this summer’s World Cup have received a boost following news that the national carrier South African Airways is releasing a number of new tickets at discounted rates.
The move follows SAA dropping its deal with Match, FIFA’s official hospitality partner for the World Cup, which had reserved a number of seats before and after the game.
Those seats will now be available to the public at discounted rates, the airline said, opening up a number of options for fans travelling between World Cup host cities.
For example, some of the smaller cities might not have enough accommodation on match nights, so fans can return to larger hubs such as Johannesburg and Cape Town using discounted fares.
Ian Cruickshank, SAA’s World Cup project leader said: “We are very pleased to now be able to offer customers these tickets at reduced rates.”
“SAA and Match couldn’t come to an agreement on the number of seats to be provided and the terms and conditions relating to this. The airline can no longer offer Match any special conditions for carriage on our aircraft,” he added.
“We would much rather make these tickets available to our own loyal customers,” said Cruickshank.
The airline said discussions with Match remain open, and that it would like to continue to provide assistance with leased aircraft that the organisation plans to use to ferry guests around South Africa.
This might also include flights to countries like Mexico, which currently have no regular commercial service to South Africa.
FIFA 2010 – a bright shining light
Cruickshank has hailed the World Cup the “one bright, shining light” during the global downturn, which has seen the aviation heavyweights post recover financial losses. SAA on the other hand has navigated the downturn with aplomb, and Cruickshank forecasts an “extremely rosy” outlook even beyond the World Cup.
Its successes were rewarded last year when it was voted “Africa’s Leading Airline” at the World Travel Awards Africa Ceremony in Durban.
This summer, the carrier is expected to reap rich rewards. Some 50,000 Americans, more passengers than from any other country, have bought tickets for World Cup matches. Many will fly into Joburg or Cape Town on SAA flights from Washington and New York.
(Left: Soccer City, Joburg - where every fan will be praying they will on 11 July)
About 30,000 visitors, nearly 10 percent of expected fans, are coming in from the United Kingdom, where SAA also has daily flights.
South Africa – the business hub of Africa
Beyond the summer, SAA is looking domestically to build its business. Only 10 percent of South Africa’s population has ever used air travel, so as the poor grow into the middle class then it will be able to cater for the growing market.
SAA currently has 52 aircraft and plans to update its fleet early next year with more fuel-efficient models.
The carrier is also looking to other African countries for expansion.
Intra-African air travel demand has steadily grown over the past ten years due to the growth in sectors such as banking, construction and retail.
In South Africa, a massive infrastructure upgrade programme in preparation for FIFA 2010 has muted the effects of the global downturn. A new state-of-the-art terminal has been built at Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International Airport, which was voted “Africa’s Leading Airport” at last year’s World Travel Awards. Durban meanwhile is now home to the $1 billion King Shaka Airport.
(Right: SAA’s Nelson de Oliveira celebrates the airline’s victory at the World Travel Awards. Picture with Graham Cooke, President and Founder, World Travel Awards, and Miss South Africa)
Beyond the World Cup, this infrastructure will provide a base for South Africa’s bid to evolve into the business hub of the African continent.
For reservations visit www.flysaa.com