Federal Airlines has introduced fares for SA residents to a number of landing strips in the Sabi Sands, Madikwe and Timbavati Game Reserves as well as to Garonga and other Hoedspruit lodges.
Fares start from R2 850 per person one way.
The carrier has also adjusted its bookings T&Cs to allow for unlimited free booking changes and free cancellations up to 15 days prior to departure date. The company has removed its fare seasonality and is extending its low-season fares throughout the remainder of 2020 and 2021.
“We are learning to say yes,” says ceo of Solenta Aviation and incoming ceo of Federal Airlines, Mark Hurst. “COVID-19 has caused significant disruption within the tourist and travel industry, but it has also created new opportunities for us. Our aim is to make the business more dynamic, more customer oriented and more flexible.”
Gm of Bush Breaks, Kathy Nel, told Travel News that there had been an initial surge in game lodge demand when cabin-fevered South Africans came out of lockdown, and that demand had remained high for the last few months, indicating a change in South African purchasing patterns.
“The lodges that adjusted their rates to affordable levels for South Africans have really benefited over this period, achieving particularly high occupancy levels over the weekends. While most of our customers have traditionally opted for self-drive bush-breaks, we expect to see an increase in fly-in packages, with the introduction of affordable scheduled charter flight rates for South African residents,” says Kathy.
Owner of Exclusive Getaways, Patsy Hayter, says 90% of its enquiries at present are for self-drive to the lowest priced lodges.
“If we offered the Federal Air SA resident rates as an option we may get some interest but it would be limited due to traveller budget constraints at present,” says Patsy.
Danielle Dismore, reservations consultant at Idube and Lukimbi lodges, agrees that most of their bookings are currently from South African travellers, who tend to opt for self-drive trips.
“If you consider that our lodges have dropped their rates in 2020, together with Federal Air’s discounted rates, we may find that the lower prices on both flights and accommodation will allow more South Africans to be able to afford fly-in game lodge packages,” says Danielle.