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If we were Fastjet Airlines SA: An entrepreneurial perspective on what Fastjet needs to do to succeed in the low cost carrier sector in SA.
If we were Fastjet SA, we'd obviously be keen to capture as big a slice of the local market share - and flights on the Cape Town to Joburg route, in particular, - as possible.
And while the low cost carrier space is certainly not saturated, given the recent demise of 1time Airlines, the offering is going to need to be either very compelling in terms of airfare pricing, or disruptive in terms of its approach, or exceedingly good in terms of service and added value - or a combination of these elements.
Knowing Your Passenger
Knowing the customer, and understanding what they need, could help Fastjet utilise their currently limited resources more efficiently.
The Cape Town to Johannesburg flight route is one of the most frequently travelled sectors in the world - the 9th busiest, in fact. Why? Obviously because Johannesburg is actually heaven and Cape Town business people are just really uptight about their mountain. Why else would they opt to fly up and down for work and business week after week, month after month?
Okay everyone calm down. The point is that the flight route is characterised by very routine travel behaviours. Fastjet knows this, hence the decision to focus on it. However, how about using this knowledge to shape the offering?
Product & Price
Train commuters have been buying week and month tickets for decades, with substantial discounts compared to single or return ticket prices.
Why not offer these Cape Town to Joburg super commuters substantial discounts on monthly 4 x return flight bundles, with double loyalty point earnings and the occasional class upgrade thrown in to sweeten the deal? What if the launch special marked flight costs down by 50% if you buy flights for 3 months ahead of schedule? Why not position it as something aspirational like Frequent Business Traveller Deals?
A deal with someone like the Star Alliance network and integration with their Air Miles Programme would obviously be useful in this regard.
From an inventory management perspective, the above could be combined with offering ridiculously good deals on the least popular flight times, and charging a bit more of a premium over time on the traditionally busy flight times? Alternatively, having passengers book and pay for 4 flights up front could serve as grounds for increasing the number of flights per sector/day with less of a risk of running empty.
In addition, Fastjet will also need to maximise ticket sales by being where people buy cheap flights. This means partnering not only with traditional travel agencies, but also with FMCG retailers, affiliate marketing networks and existing pure play / online travel agencies such as Travelstart or FlightSite.
Not that the latter would be of any value to us, clearly.
Keep an eye on SA Airlines for more information about the Fastjet launch, or visit www.fastjet.com/za for more information.