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Skywise Airlines, SA's new low cost airline, has encountered some obstacles in starting selling cheap flight tickets. The airline, in the process of being launched by the founding members of demised 1time Airlines, will be offering South African flyers flight tickets that are up to 25% cheaper than those offered by local rival airlines.

The Skywise Fleet

Using two Boeing 737s, the new low cost airline will service the Johannesburg to Cape Town flight route upon launch, with subsequent plans for route expansion. The 737 range was chosen due to its affordable capital cost and above average fuel efficiency.

According to 2012 SA airline stats published by the Airports Company of South Africa, domestic air travel fell by 5% from May to June alone. Skywise director and former 1time financial director Glenn Orsmond is quoted as saying that local air travel had contracted since 1time's market exit in 2012. Instead of beefing up their capacity, the remaining SA airlines merely opted to increase their flight ticket prices significantly, leading to the drop in air travel.

Skywise's shareholders include a Black Economic Empowerment partner and at least one foreign investor. According to Tourism Updated, the Skywise board of directors also include Michael Kaminski (1time's ex-CIO) and Johan Borstlap (Sun Air's former Managing Director.

Skywise is hoping to restimulate this lapsed segment of the air travel market, rather than trying to take market share from other low cost airlines such as Mango Airlines, SAA's subsidiary, or Kulula Airlines, operated by ComAir. The airline's launch follows the failed attempt of East African airline FastJet to get off the ground.

With 10 out of the 11 cheap airline launched in South Africa since 1991 having failed, launching a new cheap airline in 2013 is a daunting task. Airlines have been hard hit by recent fuel price hikes and an increase in airport taxes and navigation fees. These factors, combined with stiff competition from the likes of Kulula, Mango and SA Airlink, will put the Skywise business model to some serious tests upon launch.

Skywise Flight Bookings

Skywise reservations are not yet open. The airline's official launch date is yet to be confirmed, as Skywise is awaiting their Air Operator Certificate from the Civil Aviation Authority - so flight tickets aren't on sale yet.

Keep an eye on SA Airlines for Skywise's launch date and more information about booking Skywise flight tickets online. You can also visit the Skywise LinkedIn Page, and keep an eye on once the official Skywise website launches in 2014 (hopefully!)

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