Virgin Australia will partner with South African Airways (SAA) through a new codeshare agreement announced this evening.
The alliance is a surprising one because South African is also a partner with Qantas – the Flying Kangaroo codeshares with SAA’s flight from Perth to Johannesburg and Qantas’ own Sydney-Johannesburg service.
The new alliance will allow Virgin Australia passengers from Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide – but not Sydney – to book onto SAA’s Perth-Johannesburg flight by connecting to Perth on “domestic Virgin Australia routes” a spokesman for South African Airways told Australian Business Traveller.
The spokesman said the Virgin Australia partnership didn’t impact on the airline’s joint venture with Qantas because “SAA has entered into a separate codeshare arrangement with Virgin Australia.”
However, the tie-up with Virgin Australia doesn’t extend to Sydney as that city is already an anchor for the Qantas/SAA agreement.
Virgin Australia passengers on SAA flights will be able to earn Velocity frequent flyer points and status credits.
“They will also have the benefit of through-checking their baggage and receiving boarding passes to Johannesburg from their original location in Australia and onto any destination in Africa served by SAA” said Tim Clyde-Smith, South African Airways’ Country Manager for Australasia.
A reciprocal arrangement will allow travellers on South African Airways to connect through from SAA’s flight into Perth onto Virgin Australia domestic services.
Tickets based on the new VA/SAA alliance go on sale from tomorrow, February 7th, for travel from February 11th.
The Jo’burg joint venture
The alliance between Qantas and South African Airways on flights between Australia and Johannesburg will expire in December this year, and it would be for Qantas to decide if they wanted to continue the arrangement, the SAA spokesman said.
“If Qantas wants to change things they will have to give notice, but it’s up to them.”
Qantas previously sought approval from the International Air Services Commission for the alliance to run through to March 2016 however the IASC describing the tie-up as an “effective duopoly”, given that Qantas and South African Airways are the only airlines offering direct flights between the two countries.
“‘The commission is concerned that [the code-share] may deter or delay the introduction of competing services, particularly on the Sydney route, and increase barriers to entry” it said when passing its limited extension to the QF/SA hook-up.
”The commission is not satisfied that the code share would be of benefit to the public beyond 2014.'”
There has been speculation that Qantas will axe its Sydney-Johannesburg route, which operates using a fuel-thirsty Boeing 747-400, as one of many measures to curtail the airline’s financial losses, which it expects to be in the range of $250-300 million for the July-December 2013 half-year.
Qantas would shift to serving Johannesburg via Dubai, using codeshare flights currently operated by its partner Emirates.
Emirates also flies directly from Dubai to Cape Town and Durban.
Source : Australia Business Traveller