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Mango scraps flights between Lanseria and Port Elizabeth

Mango Airlines has cut its route from Port Elizabeth to Lanseria in northern Joburg
Mango Airlines has cut its route from Port Elizabeth to Lanseria in northern Joburg

Mango Airlines has scrapped a new route from Port Elizabeth International Airport to Lanseria in Johannesburg - a mere six months after the first flight landed in the city amid much fanfare.

The Nelson Mandela Bay municipality had worked with the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber, the Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC) and Mango to make the new route possible.

The introduction of the route was seen as a significant milestone for the city’s economy.

Mango spokesperson Sergio Santos-van Vuuren told SowetanLIVE's sister publication HeraldLIVE that a huge investment had been made to stimulate the market with sales campaigns and marketing drives

“Unfortunately the predicted demand did not materialise. There are no plans currently to add back the route in the future,” he said.

The route was shut down on January 15.

The first flight on the Port Elizabeth-Lanseria route landed in the city on July 11 2019. When the route was launched, Mango offered two flights from PE daily at R399.

Santos-van Vuuren said passengers who had booked tickets would be reimbursed. “They will either be accommodated on our OR Tambo to PE flights or provided with refunds.”

Bay economic development executive director Anele Qaba said the municipality was already looking at alternatives.

“We are looking to fill up the capacity gap with at least four weekly flights to align with demand between the two airports,” he said.

“For the city, the route is important as it provides seamless access to travellers originating from the northern part of greater Johannesburg and some parts of North West province.”

He said the municipality had originally expected the airline to offer just four weekly flights, with the numbers increasing gradually. “However, because the final decision lies with the operator, subsequently 14 weekly flights were introduced by the operator with the aim to stimulate the market.”

He said the municipality had been informed that the route was scrapped due to poor demand.

“Added to this is the fact that SAA has been put [in] business rescue and, as Mango is a subsidiary of SAA, one would expect some form of coordinated approach. As SAA reconfigures some of the domestic and regional routes, Mango will be taking over some of them, especially on the domestic front.”

Mango, launched in 2006, moved to allay fears over SAA being placed in business rescue in December. 

“Developments at our shareholder [do] not affect our business as a going concern at the present time. We have activated contingency plans and will continue to monitor the situation,” the airline said in a statement.

The metro’s head of economic development, Marlon Daniels, said he was currently in Johannesburg and his last meeting had taken place close to Lanseria.

“I could have avoided all the hassles of getting to OR Tambo International Airport. It really is an inconvenience,” he said.

Daniels, who was part of the negotiations with Mango, said he had hoped the route would have been in place for much longer. “It seems these negotiations were just a flash in the pan. The route never showed any profit, but it was early days.

"Hopefully we will be able to come up with an alternative as this route was handy. We must apologise to everyone who started to depend on this route, but it was beyond our control."