South Africa has halted international and domestic flying until the Covid-19 situation in the country improves, leaving many airline fleets grounded.

One of the airlines taking strain is FlySafair. The airline’s chief marketing officer Kirby Gordon told IOL Travel that large parts of the business were currently at a standstill due to the national lockdown.

FlySafair is trying its best to eradicate the challenges that came with Covid-19, starting with how to deal with revenue loss.

“Aviation is a capital intensive business. For example, Ryanair CEO Michale O’Leary once proclaimed that the price of that coffee was all he made off of a seat – and he was telling the truth. Not being able to fly means that there’s no money coming in. It’s a terrible situation as our costs don’t go away.

“Margins in our world are so thin because costs are so high, and it’s not just fuel, it’s the cost of the aircraft, its maintenance, insurance, the crew, among others. Unfortunately, these costs haven’t gone away, so we’ve got money flowing out each month with zero flowing in,” said Gordon.

While prospects seem pretty dire, especially since the aviation industry will be one of the last to open, FlySafair is among many airlines that actively seek relief from the State to ensure no job loses.

“We’ve seen many governments step up to help airlines in other countries and we’re hoping for similar relief measures from our own, ” he added.

Gordon said that despite the revenue concerns, the airline has managed to avoid retrenchments.

“There are no retrenchments on the cards as things stand. However, this is dependent on how long it takes before we can start operations again. It’s still very frightening.”

FlySafair has prepared for post-lockdown activities, including the implementation of social distancing seat options, mandatory masks, a strict no-touch policy, and carefully controlled air quality.

By Clinton Moodley