Mango airlines

Mango airline’s new ergonomically designed seats offer more passenger comfort

South African passengers choosing to fly with Mango airline on its domestic routes will be happy to hear about the new seat rollout plan. Mango airline’s new ergonomically designed seats offer more passenger comfort; and are environmentally friendly with saving about 820kg in aircraft weight, resulting in overall emission reductions of up to 1, 7 million tonnes of CO2 annually.

The airline’s seat replacement programme commences this August with two new generation Boeing 737-800 aircraft sporting the new seats. The new seats are ergonomically designed to offer increased legroom. Nico Bezuidenhout, CEO of Mango Airlines, was proud to point out that, “The new seats will increase leg room by between 6 and 7.5 centimetres, depending on where you are seated, delivering one of the best seating configurations in domestic economy class”.

The new ergonomically designed seats feature the latest in aviation technology. The slimmer seats make more efficient use of available space and allow the airline to still maintain a 186 guest load capacity. The efficiency in space utilization does not affect the number of passengers allowed on board. The only difference the new seat replacement programme brings, says Mango, is the level of added comfort for passengers with the increase in legroom.

The airline believes that the latest developments in its seat replacement programme together with the on board Wi-Fi facility and its on-time performance record and distribution accessibility will grant it a competitive edge in the local airline industry.

“The seats are also more light weight, with a saving in excess of 1.7 million tonnes in carbon emissions annually due to less fuel burn once the programme is completed,” adds Bezuidenhout. “The savings in fuel allows Mango to lower its cost base even further, making it possible to contain fare affordability even more.”

The airline will see its local flight capacity increase by over 30 weekly flights thanks to the addition of the two new 737-800 airplanes. The increase in flight schedules will be on routes between Johannesburg and Durban, Durban and Cape Town; and between Cape Town and Johannesburg.
A Durban base for Mango is in the pipeline and set to be implemented later this year will house permanently stationed aircraft. According to the airline this will promote a more improved schedule to and from the city.

The increase in flight frequency on existing routes furthers the growth of the airline with new domestic and regional routes being planned for the future. “We have applied for a schedule operation to two east-African destinations and presently in the final planning stages for a seventh domestic port.” says Bezuidhout. At present Mango runs charter flights to Zanzibar for AfricaStay, a tour operator.

South African Airways Airbus A320

SAA’s latest acquisition of two Airbus A320s pumps new lifeblood into its fleet

South African Airway’s initiative to turning around its financial woes began with it securing a contract with Standard Charter Bank to finance half of the airline’s order of 20 Airbus A320s. Two of the 10 A320 aircraft have already been delivered to SAA.

It is hoped that the fuel efficient A320 aircraft, destined for domestic and regional flight routes, will channel the South African airline back into profit making margins. SAA hopes to strengthen its expansion plans in Africa with the aim of being the carrier of choice on the continent.

This first step, in yet another turnaround strategy for SAA, was made possible after the airline secured finance from UK-based Standard Chartered Bank, an influential aviation finance company. The value of the contract between South Africa’s national carrier and Africa’s biggest airline and Standard Chartered Bank remains undisclosed.

Monwabisi Kalawe, recently appointed CEO of SAA said, “The deal will significantly enhance SAA’s domestic and regional growth strategy … the aircraft are central to SAA’s plans to provide an efficient and comprehensive regional route network.”

In addition to its domestic routes, SAA plans on introducing new aircraft on its long-haul routes which has been a major cash drain on the airline’s accounting sheets.

“Our long-term turnaround strategy has identified some big ticket items responsible for our high operating costs. These include high fuel costs as well as the use of fuel-inefficient aircraft. This deal provides the necessary solution by securing a new generation, fuel efficient fleet for us,” said Kalawe.

A melange of contributing factors has been the cause of SAA’s financial woes: exchange rate volatility, a fiercely competitive air travel market and rising fuel costs with fuel bearing the heaviest weight. The duration of most of SAA’s long-haul flights average above six-and-a-half hours. The longer the flight, the more fuel is needed. SAA’s fuel bill saw its operating costs increase by R 2.2bn which resulted in a loss of R 1.25bn in 2012.

“We are delighted to receive our first two A320 aircraft. Operating a modern and homogenous fleet plays a significant role in cost reduction and boosting revenue. The A320 will assist SAA to achieve this while providing our passengers with a more superior cabin product,” said Kalawe. The A 320 aircraft pumps new lifeblood into the airline’s fleet as it retires its aging fleet of Boeings.

The A 320 airplanes boast IAE-V2500 engines and is characterised by a two cabin arrangement which allows for the seating of 24 passengers in business class and 114 in economy.

John Leahy, Airbus Chief Operating Officer is equally confident that SAA’s has made the right choice in choosing A320 aircraft to help shed its loss-making reputation. “SAA has long been regarded as a bellwether for Africa on aircraft selection and we are looking forward to expanding our relationship. Our reliable, fuel efficient and comfortable A320s will give SAA a competitive edge and help the airline achieve sustainable profitability,” he said.

Picture Credit:Clement Alloing
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Travel with pets

Air travel’s latest loyalty programme for pet lovers

Members of the Velocity Frequent Flyer programme who opt to fly with their pets are to benefit from a new scheme introduced by Virgin Australia. In a movement towards catering for animal travel, a new loyalty programme, and the first of its kind in Australia, rewards pet lovers for taking their pets on holiday with them by offering bonus points to the air miles they already receive. Travellers who own pets are encouraged to take them along on holiday instead of leaving them back home.

CEO of Velocity Frequent Flyer Neil Thompson points out that Virgin Australia flies as many as 30 000 pets annually all across Australia. “A large proportion are owned by Velocity members, so we know how important their companions are to them,” he said.

A minimum of 300 points is awarded per pet carrier for each flight flown. Pet owners will receive points for a maximum of two pet carriers per booking. The loyalty programme for pet lovers will extend the current family benefits. “The program builds on the unique family benefits currently available to our members, such as the ability to pool Points and Status Credits with family members,” explains Mr Thompson.

The Velocity Frequent Flyer incentive to reward pet owners who fly with their pets is promoted by the launch of the ‘Velocity Pet Ambassador’ campaign in a nationwide search to appoint a pet ambassador for the loyalty scheme. The campaign kicked off on the Velocity Pet Ambassador Facebook page where pet owners are called to enrol their animals by sharing photographs of their furry four-legged loved ones. The winning dog or cat are to represent the loyalty programme in future marketing campaigns and will receive a special pack of pet-related products.

This latest pet loyalty programme introduced in Australia to encourage pet lovers to fly more and take their pets with them is not the first of its kind in the air travel industry. In 2005 Virgin Atlantic initiated its Flying Paws scheme. Each pet on board received their own welcome onboard pet pack. For canines there is a Virgin Atlantic t-shirt and a dog tag while felines receive a toy mouse and a collar tag. In addition each pets gets their own pet passport on which is recorded the flights taken and points earned. Points are redeemable for appropriate pet gifts such as dog bowls or bonus miles for their owners.

Celebrity vet and animal lover, Dr. Chris Brown, who assisted in the launch said: “It’s fantastic to see a frequent flyer program recognize how much pets enrich our lives. Now, not only will our dogs and cats give back to us in the form of unconditional love, but also in the form of our next holiday or retail purchase through Points!”.

Durban direct flights

Durban set for more direct flights

The city of Durban is seen by the provincial government to be advantageously placed to grow tourism and build business markets within the Southern Africa region. The increase in number of flights between Durban’s King Shaka International airport and Harare is part of a strategic plan to target potential tourism markets that lie within a few hours flight away.

The resultant success of the direct travel flight routes between Durban and Harare has sparked optimism that other direct routes into neighbouring countries from the coastal eastern city of Durban may prove to be equally successful. The flight routes which were only introduced in November 2012 have already reached 72% capacity. The vantage and key point of success, notes the provincial department, is the city’s relative easy distance of being just a ‘few hours of flight away’.

Michael Mabuyakhulu, the Economic Development and Tourism MEC explains, “Our intention is to foster warm relations amongst key role-players and drivers of, particularly, trade and tourism in the marketplaces of both South Africa and Zimbabwe… and unlocking the potential of this African market as we work to create new investment, business and tourism opportunities and partnerships between us.”

The airline, SA Express, launched the introduction of newly branded aircraft, and has elected to be based at the Dube Tradeport. Future plans partnered with Dube Tradeport are aimed at targeting key markets in South Africa’s neighbours. This would be unraveled through intensive trade and business promotions as well as leisure travel and investment opportunities.

A five year strategy has been developed to make maximum use of Durban’s King Shaka International’s aptly placed location and capacity to attract and increase the number of carriers landing there. Dube TradePort Corporation’s chief executive officer, Saxen van Coller, said: We are working to significantly increase direct regional and international air services to and from Durban in an effort to transform this region into South Africa’s primary alternative gateway.

KwaZulu/Natal has been earmarked as South Africa’s alternative primary gateway based on its prime location. Recent global trends indicate that almost eighty percent of incoming visitors to South Africa originate from regions that require a flight range of a four hour flying radius.

“We recognise that KZN has a unique offering for the benefit of such markets,” points out Tourism KZN chief executive Ndabo Khoza, “We intend to sell the beach experience, creating a platform for the benefit of new African tourists to Durban and KZN.”



Airbus A350

Airbus A350’s maiden flight

The Airbus A350’s maiden flight in Toulouse marked a milestone in the travel and aviation industries respectively. The successful four-hour flight was crewed by former fighter pilots – two British and French. On board the aircraft were heavy loads of test equipment.

The design and launch of this next-generation Airbus 350 is set to challenge and cut down the American Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner’s hold on the lucrative long-haul market for wide-body aircraft. The A350 sports two impressive Rolls-Royce XWB Trent engines. These highly efficient engines were built exclusively for the A350 and is said to be the “world’s most efficient” engines, each powering out 84,000 lb of thrust.

Wherein then lays the secret to the A350 airbus? Almost three-quarters of the aircraft casing are made up of lightweight carbon-fibre designed to economize on jet fuel. The combination of light weight body, super efficient engine and new aerodynamics allows for the A350 to burn up to 25% less fuel as compared to the Dreamliner. This economy would reduce the cost of long-haul flights up to as much as half the cost.

The aircraft has been in development phase for eight years which is approximated to have cost $15 billion. The A350 will be available in three variants with seating capacities ranging from 270 to 350 passengers in three class layouts.

The A350’s entry into service is scheduled for the latter part of 2014. This is after a delay of about 18 months. Much of the delay is due to the advanced changes in technology and materials. Both the manufacturers of the A350 and the Boeing have used lightweight carbon fibre reinforced plastic instead of the traditional aluminum alloy. The wings of the A350 is said to be the largest for a wide-body aircraft.

Chief executive of EADS, the parent body of Airbus, expressed optimism that the A350 airbus would be delivered to Qatar Airways towards the later part of 2014. The only challenges the parent company foresees is the acquiring of certification and the final run in production stage.

Apart from the launch customer, Qatar Airways which is due to receive 80 of all three variants of A350’s, other customers in line for the A350 include: British Airways and Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific. Airbus has already seen over 600 orders for the A350 which speaks of confidence in the new entrant in the long-haul wide-body aircraft market.

Thousands of Airbus employees and aviation devotees who had gathered to witness the landmark flight greeted the touchdown of the A350’s maiden flight with jubilant cheers. The success of the A350’s faultless maiden test flight is revealed in the words of Airbus’s chief test pilot, Peter Chandler, who after piloting the prototype aircraft said: “It just seemed really happy in the air,” and further added, “all the things we were testing had no major issues at all.”