SAA stops Cape Town to London flights

Bizarre news from South Africa’s national carrier is that they are pulling their direct CPT – LHR services from August 2012. The reasons cited included:

a 24 percent drop in demand between Britain and South Africa for all carriers in the past three years, as well as dwindling passengers from Cape Town to London as a destination and for onward connections and the fact that competitors also offered cost effective routes from Cape Town.

It’s not the first time SAA has cut a high profile route from its portfolio. Back in November 2010, it dropped its Cape Town to Durban flights. But for me, this announcement is bizarre, simply because it comes just a couple of days after hugely encouraging figures from Cape Town International Airport and Western Cape Tourism, showing that:

CTIA received over 215 000 international travellers in the fourth quarter of 2011, which is a year-on-year increase of 14.5%.

Which doesn’t seem to fit with that SAA claim of falling demand.

It’s not great news for us expats (or anyone else wanting to get to the UK and back) in Cape Town as it will reduce competition on the route (not that SAA were ever really very competitive on prices anyway). Of course, you can still use the SAA service to London via Joburg, but since it adds a minimum of 4 extra hours to the journey, yet still costs as much as a direct flight, why would you want to do that?

UPDATE: Cape Town Tourism press release on the SAA announcement.

  • JDog

    So that leaves Virgin & BA from LHR. One wonders what the real reason for it is?

  • Gordon Matthews

    They clearly can’t compete with the other two. Their prices confirm as much.

    Maybe they’ve just thrown in the towel rather than fly half-empty planes.

  • gosh – you may as well move to PE.

  • JDog > See Gordon’s reasoning.

    Gordon Matthews > My guess too. All this talk of expensive visas and the like doesn’t make sense when you see other airlines operating profitably on the route. And in addition, they’re moving the planes onto their routes to Perth and Mumbai – both of which require visas as well. One point made on twitter is that Virgin and BA can use London as a hub to fly to other places and SAA can’t, but I can’t see that making all the difference.

    Pamela > And suffer the inconvenience of having to go via a real city to get anywhere?
    Your pro-PE propaganda has not gone unnoticed, but has more comedic value than anything else, I’m afraid. 😉

  • Pingback: New Gatwick flight | 6000 miles from civilisation...()