Weekend flight prices compared: Tips for savvy travellers

Airlines’ cheapest airfares are often during unpopular times, such as very early morning or late at night.

Domestic travellers in South Africa who take a weekend flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town and back will fork out between R2 300 and R4 200 for a return ticket.

Moneyweb did a comparison between airfares of the five airlines that currently offer domestic flights in South Africa: Airlink, CemAir, FlySafair, Lift and South African Airways (SAA). The research shows it pays to book flight tickets well in advance.

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The difference between a booking done a few days in advance compared with one done five weeks in advance can be as much as R2 500 for a low-cost airline such as FlySafair, that is if you manage to get a flight.

Moneyweb considered the airfares for the weekend of 10 to 12 May to strip out the inflationary effect that a long weekend or even school holidays have on ticket prices.

Passengers who make bookings five weeks in advance reap the benefits of discounted tickets, as the table below shows. Interestingly, there was no price difference between a booking made five weeks in advance compared to a booking six months into the future.

Ticket price comparison for flights: Friday 10 to Sunday 12 May 2024
Ticket price comparison for flights: Friday 10 to Sunday 12 May 2024

The searches for airfares were on the airlines’ websites and not through a ticket price aggregator.

Low-cost airline FlySafair came in cheapest at R2 300 return, while CemAir was the most expensive at just over R4 200.

CemAir was the only airline that charged a premium for a return flight from Cape Town to Johannesburg on a Sunday evening, which is a popular travel time for both leisure and business travellers.

Note, however, that airlines’ cheapest airfares are often during unpopular times, such as very early morning or late at night. Although Flysafair came in at the most affordable price, these were for evening flights after 19:00.

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Since the demise of Mango, which went into business rescue in mid-2021, and Comair, which went into liquidation in June 2022, there has been a flight supply crunch, especially for bookings done over the short term. Comair owned and operated domestic carrier kulula.com and operated British Airways flights locally through the franchise agreement it had with owner International Airlines Group.

Mango, a former subsidiary of SAA, could soon return to the skies after a recent court ruling determined that it may be sold and resuscitated by Ubuntu Air Services, a partnership between Randburg-based DG Capital and Africa Stay.

The future of SAA is also uncertain at present, following the collapse of a deal with the Takatso Consortium. But for now, the airline continues to operate domestic routes as well as a long-haul flight from either Cape Town or Johannesburg to São Paolo in Brazil. It also intends to reinstate an international flight between Johannesburg and Perth in Australia.

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An aviation expert with inside knowledge told Moneyweb that SAA’s domestic flight tickets are currently very reasonable and may continue to be so for the foreseeable future.

“It’s a very price-sensitive environment, so SAA may drop fares significantly to claw back market share.”

This article was republished from Moneyweb. Read the original here

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