SA Express launched the Cape Town Hoedspruit route today at Hoedspruit Eastgate Airport in the Kruger National Park.
The launch comes after nine months of planning with key stakeholders. SA Express CEO, Inati Ntshanga, said: “The route is integral to our network expansion strategy that aims to improve connectivity between domestic airports.”
Harnessing the growing demand from smaller cities and towns is a key strategic imperative for the airline that already dispatches 940 flights a week to 23 destinations including: George, East London, Port Elizabeth, Kimberley and Bloemfontein. Part of SA express’ competitive advantage lies in its smaller gauge aircraft fleet. “Back in 1994 when we started, the fleet was 6 aircraft. We grew that to 15 in 2004 and now it is currently 27. All of these are 50 and 70 seater aircraft. We are now focusing on streamlining the fleet as this will align the costs and planning of maintenance and make operational scheduling and planning easier.”
The airline has acquired seven Bombardier Q400s which will be delivered between August and December 2011 as part of the fleet renewal strategy. “These Q400 Turboprops have the latest technology and are, as a result, much more fuel efficient and environmentally friendly. SA Express already operates two Q400’s which have been in the fleet since 2006, and with the performance of the product we are confident that not only will it enhance the customer experience but also increase profitability. The funding structure enables SA Express to operate with the needed flexibility and to ensure that SA Express operates within the targeted gearing ratio’s. This is the second new route that SA Express has launched in this calendar year; in January 2010 the airline added Cape Town – Durban flights.
Overall, we are pleased with our performance, there are areas where we will not meet our targets due to service interruption challenges.” Said Ntshanga: “SA Express is focusing holistically on improving our customer service, meeting our reliability target of 91%, building our skills base across the organisation. We are spending a lot of time and resources on training and skills development.”