Repatriation flights: Empty outbound leg hikes up the airline ticket cost
South Africans can now go abroad once more, if they meet certain requirements.
This is welcome news for those who had to delay their flights due to the lockdown conditions and the closing off of our borders, but with CapeTalk listeners sending in anecdotes of exorbitant airfares, it seems you'll need to have deep pockets in order to do so anytime soon.
So why are airlines charging so much for seats on their planes - are they not vying for our business? Or is it just a matter of just too few flights to satisfy the demand? We talk to two experts
Flight Centre Business Travel's Andrew Grunewald and Travelstart's John Friel, chat to Refilwe Moloto about what you may encounter when trying to book a flight in coming weeks, now that South Africans can travel abroad under certain conditions.
There is a very unique situation right now whereby airlines are only allowed to offer flights under very strict rules and regulations to repatriate passengers. That tends to mean that at certain points int the journey, the airplane is empty.John Friel, Commercial manager - Travelstart
This means the empty outbound leg of the flight is a cost that he says may then be added to passengers on the inbound leg.
What is the difference between repatriation and a non-repatriation flight? The non-repatriation flight is the one en route to picking up passengers who will be repatriated back to their home country.
Grunewald agrees the airlines are bearing far greater costs.
With our experience with regards to the last two months that we have helped from the Unites States, the Maldives, New Zealand, and particularly Australia, I 100% agree that airlines overhead costs need to be factored in.Andrew Grunewald,Operations leader and area leader - Flight Centre Business Travel
With any repatriation flight, it is a massive undertaking.Andrew Grunewald,Operations leader and area leader - Flight Centre Business Travel
He says there are negotiations between governments, airlines, and then passenger or customer flight centres.
There are a lot of moving parts and it has been incredibly complex to get people back to their homes and families.Andrew Grunewald,Operations leader and area leader - Flight Centre Business Travel
He says they work hard to keep costs down as much as possible.
Some governments have been subsiding flights.Andrew Grunewald,Operations leader and area leader - Flight Centre Business Travel
He says some repatriation flights had to be cancelled at the last minute due to lack of demand and capacity.
Pricing is pretty much up to demand and that is all pretty much governed by the airlines....airlines charge what airlines want to charge.John Friel, Commercial manager - Travelstart
Listen to the interview below:
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