IN WHAT is a step backwards in South Africa's campaign for more Indian tourists, South African Airways (SAA) is shutting down its thrice-weekly Mumbai-Johannesburg direct service.
The airline’s country head, Sajid Khan, said this is part of SAA’s ongoing network optimisation exercise and a critical aspect of its long-term turnaround strategy.
TTG Asia e-Daily understands that the cessation stems from losses made on the route.
Tour operators selling the destination are understandably displeased by the development and Subhash Motwani, director of Mumbai-based Namaste Tourism, expects the cancellation of direct flights “may have an adverse affect on business”.
“Also, as it increases travel time to Johannesburg, people may opt for European destinations,” Motwani added.
Meanwhile, other challenges to South African travel exist. “We are specialised in selling luxury products, and getting visas for our clients still remains a challenge, in some cases it even takes more than 15 days,” stated Ramesh Godia, CEO of Varun Worldwide Vacations.
However, SAA will codeshare on 12 flights with Etihad and Jet Airways to connect Indian passengers from Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Trivandrum to Johannesburg via Abu Dhabi.
South Africa is courting traffic from India and has engaged South African former cricketer Jhonty Rhodes as brand ambassador. It held a briefing for media yesterday and a four-city roadshow last year.