SAA reduces UK routes

 SAA to severely reduce UK routes

 ...  .   SAA  will close LHR-CPT service and reduce LHR-JNB routes in face of a 24% decline in visitors to UK  

South African Airways has announced that it will stop flying between Cape Town and London Heathrow on August 15, meaning passengers to and from Cape Town will in future have to route via Johannesburg.

The airline will also reduce daily flights from LHR from 3 to 2  but may use larger aircraft to accommodate passengers from Cape Town.

SAA’s commercial manager, Theunis Potgieter, said this was in line with SAA’s route optimization strategy, which meant "redeploying aircraft to routes with the strongest growing demand" these being, India, Australasia and South America and inter Africa.

Reasons given are a dramatic 24% decline inbound UK tourism with VisitBritain rating South Africa amongst the top five fastest declining visitor markets to the UK. Demand for flights between Cape Town and London and the USA via London shrank from 650,000 to 560,000. Reasons given:   

1.  High Air Passenger Departure taxes in London

2.  Expensive transit visas for South Africans

3.  Fierce competition such as:

  1. Poor onward connectivity. The sale of Star Alliance member British Midlands to a non-alliance airline meant SAA lost connectivity and increased connectivity to Cape Town by SAA’s competitors British Airways and Virgin Airways, which were able to offer cost effective onward connections from Heathrow 
  2. Twice daily services by Emirates
  3. Significantly fewer regional or international connections from Cape Town as opposed to Johannesburg