4 March 2004
Mpumalanga’s R320-million Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (KMIA) is preparing to launch its first scheduled international flights, a year after being awarded its international licence.
KMIA marketing manager Irvin Phenyane said this week that KMIA had short-listed two charter airlines to operate regular scheduled flights to three medium-haul destinations in neighbouring Mozambique.
Pelican Air will fly to the popular tourist destination of Vilanculos in central Mozambique, while Charlan Air has been short-listed for routes serving the tourist centre of Inhambane and Mozambique’s second city of Beira.
“We expect the first regional flights to begin on 1 April – exactly one year after we won our international licence”, Phenyane said, adding that additional routes to Zambia’s tourism capital, Livingstone, would be announced later this month.
However, no carriers have expressed an interest in shorter-haul international destinations to the Mozambican capital, Maputo, or neighbouring Swaziland’s capital, Mbabane.
“No one is really interested in developing the Maputo or Swaziland routes, because they claim they’re too short to be profitable”, Phenyane said. “Why fly when you can drive there in two hours? Relatively low passenger volumes and the high price of tickets also remains an issue.”
A return Nelspruit-to-Cape Town economy class ticket currently costs upwards of R4 200, while a similar Johannesburg-to-Cape Town ticket on a budget airline costs in the region of R800.
“Ticket prices are something airports have no real control over”, Phenyane said.
Phenyane said that the airport was averaging 12 000 passengers per month, or 144 000 per year, in its second year of operation.