Kulula adds frills to its core operations

Marcia Klein

Marcia Klein

No-frills budget airline Kulula is spreading its wings into travel and cellphones.

The company, one of the few to establish a well known South African brand in only seven years, is launching a new business strategy.

With a new logo and new business units, kulula will launch three sub-brands - Kulula air, Kulula travel and Kulula connect.

It also has its financial services business with the Kulula credit card.

The move, which is reminiscent of the Virgin Group's expansion, will enable Kulula to diversify its sources of revenue.

Kulula's joint chief executive Gidon Novick said yesterday Kulula has, in seven years, become successful as an airline and as a brand.

Kulula air will include domestic, regional and, soon, international flight bookings as well as cars, hotels and taxi cabs.

Kulula travel will be an online travel site, to book package holidays and hotel bookings. Novick said Kulula already has an online audience. It is the largest online retailer in the country, with more than R2 billion revenue a year and over 650 000 unique browsers monthly.

Kulula connect, through a partnership with Altech Autopage, will enable people to formulate a cellular and data package to suit them.

All the brands will be tied together through a loyalty mechanism.

In financial services, Kulula already has 20 000 card holders and, according to Novick, the strongest reward programme of 3 percent rewards.

Novick said that when Kulula launched, only 4 percent of South Africans travelled by air. Now more than 10 percent do.

Commenting on the airline industry, Novick said it was important to build a business around permanently high oil prices and an anticipation that the currency will weaken. He said the new Kulula fleet had resulted in a 27 percent fuel saving at a critical time for the industry.