British Airways still cheaper

SouthAfrica.TO survey
4 January 2008 flights
surveyed on 8 Dec 2007

They're a full service carrier so this shouldn't be happening but British Airways flights are still cheaper than those of the South African low cost carriers. We compared flight prices from Cape Town to Johannesburg and British Airways, at R1200, was the cheapest.

Flights from Cape Town to Johannesburg
Bus trips from Cape Town to Johannesburg

British Airways

R1 200

Baz Bus (7 day pass)

R1 020

Kulula airline

R1 556

City to City bus

no coaches

Mango airline

R1 332

Greyhound bus

R 530

Nationwide airline

R1 402

Intercape bus

R 545

1time airline

R1 569

SA Roadlink bus

R 399

South African Airways

R2 073

Translux bus

R 510

New layout to include bus trips

Regular SouthAfrica.TO readers will have noticed a change to the layout to include the prices of bus trips from Cape Town to Johannesburg. We know that a bus trip is not as sexy as flying, but the price is right and once every few years it's nice to remind oneself of what the countryside looks like.

British Airways cheaper

What's happened to the South African low cost carriers that a full service carrier (and obviously we're not talking about SAA) can be cheaper than them for 3 out of 4 weeks? Here's the record of British Airways' phenomenal run:

survey date

flight date

flight route

British Airways flight price

average flight price

17 Nov 2007

14 Dec 2007

Johannesburg to Cape Town flights

R 867

R1 298

24 Nov 2007

21 Dec 2007

Cape Town to Durban flights

R 1370

R 1522

1 Dec 2007

28 Dec 2007

Durban to Johannesburg flights

R 410

R 542

8 Dec 2007

4 Jan 2007

Cape Town to Johannesburg flights

R 1200

R 1412

We've for some time felt that British Airways offers the best economy class flight in South Africa, and now you've got the best of both worlds - lowest price, best service. Well done British Airways - we cannot congratulate you enough.

British Airways plane

Nationwide flying again

Thabo Mbeki would probably agree with whoever said that a week is a long time in politics - well, it can be just as long in the South African Aviation industry. We've gone full circle from Nationwide being grounded to the head of the Civil Aviation Authority resigning to Nationwide flying again (they started with a flight from Johannesburg to London on the 7th December and will be flying Johannesburg to Cape Town on the 9th). We're really happy for Vernon, his staff and all their passengers. The South African aviation industry would be a lot worse off without Nationwide, who have regularly topped our surveys.

Nationwide plane

Financial soundness of Nationwide

South African banks need to hold a certain amount of capital so that the public do not start doubting their ability to repay them their bank balances (thereby causing a run on the bank - something which used to be common before these types of requirements were introduced). We at SouthAfrica.TO believe that there should be a minimum capital requirement for airlines as well, so that the public don't start doubting their ability to honour the tickets they purchase (it has happened in the past that airlines have gone bankrupt, leaving tickets that people hold useless).

Now, 1time and Comair (which runs Kulula and British Airways South Africa) are listed companies so we can see their financials (1time had R47 million in the kitty on 30 June 2007, and Comair had R426 million at the same date). South African Airways and Mango airline are government backed, so they have the deep pockets of the South African taxpayer to bail them out (as has happened before). That leaves Nationwide - we don't know what the state of their balance sheet is (they're a private company, and don't publish their balance sheet publicly).

We know Vernon said that Nationwide airlines is financially sound, but we'd like to see them publish some financial statements so that we can rest assured that there's no chance of Nationwide going bankrupt, thereby leaving tickets we've bought useless.

Mango summer sale

Mango airways announced a summer sale which lasts for flight reservations until the 14th December. We were a bit surprised that an airline announces a sale in the middle of the December flying season (and at the same time that plenty of Nationwide passengers must have been looking for flights), but there you have. We are also surprised that there hasn't been the usual backlash of complaints about the Mango flight sale (maybe people have got used to the fact that whilst you can book a flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town for R199, you still have to book the return flight with Mango and it costs more).

Mango summer sale

On the web last week

Citiliner's excuse for not displaying departure and arrival times on their website

You can genuinely find this on Citiliner's website (my bolding): "Due to space constraints on the website we are not able to display the departure and arrival times." Citiliner bus service must be pretty hard up if they cant afford the cents it'll cost for the extra meg of space (SouthAfrica.TO pays some R30 a month for 5 gigabytes of space).

Cape Town to New YorkAmerican in Cape Town

David's trip from Johannesburg to Cape Town started badly with him having to change a mis-booking ("SAA was less-than-not-very-helpful, thank you less-than-not-very-much") to another airline. The other airline wasn't much better: "They lied to my face. Worst customer service experience ever." Some other extracts from David's blog:

  • "I couldn't drag Brian out of his bed, even after pouring water on him."

  • "Seal Island is pretty much the only place in the entire world that you can go and watch the great whites actually breach."

  • "I was zipping along at probably 140kms and BAM there goes a baboon shooting across the road like a bullet. We missed him by no more than a meter. It was just like in the states where you almost hit a deer, except it was a freakin baboon - yep, you're in Africa."

Read more about David's trip here.

SA Roadlink busTaking the bus instead of flying

While flying has increased in popularity, bus trips have been seen as dull and the less sexy option. Nevertheless, if you've got time on your hands, want to save money or haven't seen the countryside a bus trip can be a rewarding option. We've decided to start providing more coverage of the bus trip options. So, what are the bus options in South Africa?

The Baz Bus

The Baz Bus is iconic to backpackers in South Africa, allowing them to tour the country on a hop-on hop-off basis, and provides another easy opportunity to travel with like-minded people. The Baz Bus takes backpackers from youth hostel to youth hostel. We've set up a webpage to help you with your Baz Bus bookings.

Translux bus & SA Roadlink

The Translux bus probably has the strongest brand name amongst the traditional coaches, offering luxury bus trips through South Africa, Mozambique, Zambia and Malawi. SA Roadlink is a newer bus, notorius for the accident a couple of years ago on Christmas day in which 12 people died, and the driver was found to have had several drunk driving offences, and also offers luxury bus trips through South Africa covering the major centres (Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg) and many more.

Intercape, Citiliner and Greyhound

The Citiliner bus, Greyhound bus and Intercape bus offer traditional semi-luxury bus trips through South Africa covering the major cities (Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth), many towns on the routes and trips through countries neighbouring South Africa.

Internationally speaking

Getting from London to Paris

easyJet are offering the cheapest flight from London to Paris for the second week in a row.

Survey date

Flight date

Air France

British Airways

easyJet flight


National Express *

Eurostar train

1 Dec 2007

28 Dec 2007



£71.99 ¹




25 Nov 2007

21 Dec 2007



£86.99 ¹




18 Nov 2007

14 Dec 2007



£51.99 ¹




10 Nov 2007

7 Dec 2007



£51.99 ¹




4 Nov 2007

30 Nov 2007



£51.99 ¹




[Survey of coaches, trains and flights from London to Paris,
leaving between 1700 and 2000 (London time).]

¹ an allowance has been made for 1 item of easyJet hold baggage weighing 20kg (which costs £2). KLM (economy class) allow 2 pieces of checked luggage weighing up to 23kg in total. British Airways (World Traveller and Euro Traveller) allow 1 piece of luggage weighing up to 23kg. Air France (Temp class) allows 2 pieces of checked luggage weighing up to 23kg in total. All airlines charge extra for non-standard sized baggage.

* coach/ferry, excluding travel insurance ** train

Flight specials from the UK

KLM have announced their December 2007 flight specials from the UK. And if economy class specials don't do it for you, try the December 2007 Silverjet sale (Silverjet has provided us with a special 5% discount promotional code).

Ryanair on America's 911

A Life in Full Flight
"There is little doubt that tragic events in the US are being used by a number of European flag carriers as an excuse upon which to blame their long-standing cost problems and an opportunity to look for subsidies and handouts...I think a lot of airlines are making hay out of what happened and trying to create their own crisis. This is our chance to send out a clear message to the big, fat flag carriers who are looking for state subsidies." Michael O'Leary, the man in charge of Ryanair flights, shares his thoughts on 911 in Alan Ruddock's book, "A Life in Full Flight: The story of the man who made Ryanair take off".

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