Qantas and South African Airways have been told by air regulators that they can continue their restrictive code-sharing pact between Australia and South Africa – but they must increase flights to maintain approval.The International Air Services Commission (IASC) has extended its approval for a further 12 months, having reviewed an August approval to consider the effects of V Australia’s plan to withdraw from the Melbourne – Johannesburg route in February.
In an updated draft decision, released Thursday, the IASC said the two carriers – soon to be the only two airlines flying directly between the two southern hemisphere countries – would have to increase the minimum number of frequencies per week to 14 – that’s two more than required in the earlier draft and four more than they are running currently.
The commission conceded the route was “likely to be less competitive than would have been the case if V Australia had continued flying”.
“This means that public benefits are likely to be reduced once V Australia ceases operations. However, this of itself is not a basis for denying continued code share approval.”
Qantas has sought a two year extension to its nearly 10 year old code-share pact with SAA.The two carriers have been roundly condemned for their pricing on the route, but V Australia had struggled to achieve a return on South African flights and was consequently reallocating its Boeing 777 aircraft to more lucrative destinations.
Travellers wishing to get flights to South Africa from Australia and who want to avoid the duopoly have the choice of flying with Air Mauritius which flies from Sydney via Melbourne, or from Perth, or with Emirates or Etihad via Dubai or Abu Dhabi respectively, all of those options requiring considerably longer flight times.