Comair's closing has had a widespread impact on domestic travel in South Africa, wiping out about 40% of aircraft capacity. Amid fears of price hikes, Airlink is taking steps to grow their fleet and add new routes to make up the shortfall faster. Keep reading for the latest news on booking Airlink flights to new destinations.
Airlink takes steps to add capacity
Airlink is currently one of the biggest operators in Africa and has the largest fleet of Embraer aircraft on the continent. Out of 56 aircraft available, 50 are from the Embraer range, including 3 E170s, 28 E145s, and 19 E190s.
Now, Airlink has embarked on a lease for three E195s from Nordic Aviation Capital, which will replace the E190 as Airlink’s largest aircraft, and increase their offering considerably.
This will help satisfy some of the growing demand for airline seats and keep prices as low as possible for passengers booking airlink flights in future.
Airlink and Qatar Airways adding international destinations
A recent codeshare agreement with Doha-based Qatar Airways, one of the Middle East's largest airline networks, has enabled Airlink to take steps to increase capacity for foreign visitors to Hoedspruit, Skukuza, George, Gqeberha, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe.
Likewise, South African travellers will enjoy enhanced connectivity between 45 destinations across 13 countries worldwide.
The comprehensive codeshare agreement means travellers may enjoy seamless connecting flights using a single reservation thanks to coordinated ticketing, boarding, check-in, and baggage checks for the duration of their journey.
Passengers can book their flights in one place with travel agencies either online or in person.
Now, customers can book appealing offers from Southern Africa to destinations like New York, Dallas, London, Copenhagen, Barcelona and more. Sought-after Asian destinations like Manila, Cebu, and Jakarta are also accessible by means of the codeshare agreement.
According to Airlink’s chief executive, Rodger Foster, the agreement endorses Airlink as a relevant provider for enabling air access to the entire region via its expansive network of destinations. As Southern Africa’s leading airline, Airlink offers reliable, safe, and comprehensive air transport for connecting people and facilitating trade.
Likewise, Qatar Airways’ group chief executive, Akbar al Baker highlighted that expanding Qatar’s network with Airlink allows customers a wider variety of destinations, serving to speed up the recovery of the travel industry.
The latest codeshare agreement with Airlink adds to Qatar Airways consistent efforts to enhance African travel. Since 2020, Qatar Airways has added eight new destinations to its portfolio.
More new routes for Airlink in 2022
After the demise of Comair, Airlink has been actively involved in adding and re-instituting more African destinations to its offering. These include:
Airlink keen to resume flights to Madagascar
Prior to 2020, Airlink was the only local operator offering flights to Madagascar, with daily return flights between Johannesburg and Antananarivo and seasonal weekly flights to Nosy Be.
When Madagascar lifted restrictions for air travel on 5 March 2022, it specifically excluded South African flights. Since then, Airlink has campaigned tirelessly to get their access reinstated, and Madagascar’s foreign minister has implied this may soon be the case.
Unfortunately, while the ban has subsequently been lifted, there is as yet no confirmed date for resumption of this service.
On 28 July, Airlink announced that it will implement a direct route between Maputo and Cape Town on 31 August 2022. The airline will harness the modern 37-seater Embraer 135 for this journey which should take place three times weekly at first.
Airlink already offers several weekly flights from Johannesburg to Mozambican destinations, including Vilanculos, Beira, Nampula, Pemba, Tete, and Maputo. Additionally, Airlink also offers flights between Mbombela and Vilanculos.
In the wake of loosening travel restrictions, Airlink is preparing to increase the frequency of flights between Johannesburg and Jamestown, St Helena Island.
The airline plans to increase its fortnightly service to weekly flights from 15 October 2022.
From 15 August 2022, Airlink will offer daily direct return flights between Victoria Falls and Johannesburg after receiving approvals from both countries’ aeronautical authorities.
The daily flights will take place on a 98-seater Embraer E190 jetliner and will connect with Airlink’s other Johannesburg services, including the applicable Qatar codeshare destinations.
Improved prospects for the South African travel industry
The importance of increased flight availability can’t be overemphasised in relation to the South African economy.
Flight shortages and high fares pose a threat to both business and leisure travel in South Africa, creating yet another setback for the long-suffering travel industry.
In this regard, Airlink’s efforts are an important stepping stone toward economic recovery, by boosting both tourism and trade between important economic hubs.