Mango chief responds to allegations that taxpayers fund it

The war of words between the low-cost carriers (LCCs) continues, with Mango chief executive Nico Bezuidenhout responding to allegations by a competitor that South Africa's newest LCC is costing taxpayers up to R3million a week.

The war of words between the low-cost carriers (LCCs) continues, with Mango chief executive Nico Bezuidenhout responding to allegations by a competitor that South Africa's newest LCC is costing taxpayers up to R3million a week.

"While consumers have enjoyed the benefits of Mango's sustainable low fares and the so-called 'price war' since Mango's entry into the local aviation market, some of the new airline's competitors continue to cry foul - recycling the same argument week after week. It' becoming tired," said Bezuidenhout.

Earlier this week Comair estimated that Mango is costing taxpayers more than R3million a week.

Comair joint chief executive Erik Venter based these calculations on an all-inclusive cost of R60000 a flight between Johannesburg and Cape Town.

"With their flights only 50 percent full, their revenue per flight won't even cover their fuel and maintenance costs," Venter said on Wednesday.

He went on to question how much SAA's attempt to "nationalise" the local aviation industry was ultimately going to cost South African taxpayers.

Comair said it had requested an undertaking from SAA not to put any further capital into Mango after the R100million that has already been sunk into the project. To date the undertaking has not been forthcoming, the statement said.

Though Comair was able to run kulula.com profitably from day one, Mango has indicated that it expects a two-year grace period in which to turn a profit, he said.

Mango took to the skies on November 15 with an initial fleet of four Boeing 737 800s, an aircraft favoured by global local cost carriers for its reliability, safety record and fuel efficiency. - I-Net Bridge

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