A new airline, Fly Modern Ark, hopes to take to the skies in South Africa in the next four months, operating on some of the same routes as SA Express and SA Airlink.
Founder of Fly Modern Ark, Theunis Crous, told Tourism update he originally approached SA Express with an investment offer as well as Public Enterprises Minister, Lynne Brown. Both offers were ignored. “We wanted to partner with SA Express, but we can’t keep waiting,” says Crous. The airline has applied for and obtained a licence and is also considering integrating with the GDS.
Fly Modern Ark aims to offer affordable fares from secondary airports such as Queenstown and Ladysmith, as well as from rural areas. “We have ten 56-seat aircraft as well as two cargo aircraft, which are able to land just about everywhere, as long as there is a landing strip,” explains Crous.
Fly Modern Ark has some Chinese investors, but Crous stresses that the airline is fully South African owned and run with a strong BB-BEE backing. The investment structure is such that it will be able to offer very low fares on all its routes.
“We have 10 (passenger) aircraft, but these aircraft are going to fly. We won’t let them stand on the ground. Even if it means we fly till 12 o’clock at night,” says Crous, adding that Fly Modern Ark will be looking at routes such as Umtata, East London, Kimberley, Polokwane, Skukuza and even some regional routes, including Swaziland and Mozambique.
Rodger Foster, CEO and MD of SA Airlink, says it sees every challenger as a competitive threat, but at the same time welcomes competition as it can serve to stimulate the market and optimise service delivery. “We do, however, have concerns over the extent to which markets become destabilised during periods of competitive sparring and, in particular, the unfortunate consequences that failed airline businesses have on consumers.”