South African Airways goes all Virgin on Australia flights
In a micro scale sense given the macro sized Qantas issues, its former code share partner, South African Airways has completed its Virginisation of flight connections for Australian travellers.
From 1 June those seeking to fly to Johannesburg from Sydney will have an SAA/Virgin code share enabling connections via Perth to its major hub, as an alternative to the non-stop Qantas flight from Sydney.
On the face of it, no-one in their right mind would dump Qantas for the Virgin Australia/SAA time consuming combo over Perth from Sydney.
But the catch is in the South African connections. As the Qantas/SAA code share ends those travellers who are flying beyond Johannesburg to elsewhere in South Africa will not have access to the single booking code share simplicity and convenience that for now had been the case.
It is convenient and often less costly access to the SAA network that is the lure to go Virgin to Perth and change to the South African service to Johannesburg.
While the abandonment of the QF/SAA route sharing agreement may please the competition purists it is a total pain in the posterior for travellers. The only sensible expectation for Australia-South Africa flights upon the end of the QF/SAA codeshares is that travel between the two countries will become much less convenient and probably rather more costly. What might be called a lose-lose situation.
The logical commercial partner for Qantas in South Africa would be British Airways franchise Comair, an airline which has a lesser network than SAA and flies mostly older model 737s. Comair has a second budget brand Kulula which flies newer 737-800s, but uncomfortably if you are a normal sized adult never mind a person of size.
In Perth, where Qantas inexplicably quit its SAA code share before it had worked out an alternative arrangement, such as flying its own jets to Johannesburg, it seriously expects its customers to fly there via Dubai using Emirates, an absurdity that results in double the trip time.
Australia-South Africa flights present problems which may change in their solutions, or take on further difficulties, in the course of the year. However Qantas has given an assurance that when it comes to route cuts Sydney-Johannesburg is off the table. Which for this cynical flyer means, be worried.