Velvet Sky was a low-cost carrier based at King Shaka International Airport in Durban, South Africa. The airline, which was launched in March 2011, was privately owned and operated domestic service to the major cities of South Africa. The carrier suspended services in Mar-2012.
Location of Velvet Sky main hub (Johannesburg Oliver R Tambo International Airport)
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FlySafair’s ambitions to launch services on South Africa’s biggest domestic route between Johannesburg and Cape Town from 17-Oct-2013 have been dealt a severe blow by a High Court interdict issued on 8-Oct-2013 restraining FlySafair from operating scheduled domestic passenger services pending a review of South Africa’s Air Service Licensing Council’s (ASLC) decision to grant the carrier a licence to operate.
The interim injunction has stalled, temporarily at least, a looming battle in the South African domestic market into which FlySafair and fellow LCC start-up SkyWise are planning to launch, ending a brief period where the South African Airways and Comair groups enjoyed a duopoly following the demise of LCC 1time in Nov-2012.
Comair, which operates as LCC Kulula, and the full service British Airways franchise combined forces with would-be competitor SkyWise to block FlySafair’s launch by challenging the ASLC’s decision. Comair and SkyWise claim that FlySafair does not meet South Africa’s maximum 25% foreign ownership limit to operate domestic services and that one of its directors is not a resident of South Africa.
South Africa has lost two airlines this year with the collapse of low-cost carrier 1time on 02-Nov-2012 and short lived LCC start-up Velvet Sky in Mar-2012. The demise of the smaller carriers has in effect returned the South African domestic market to a duopoly of South African Airways and Comair and their respective subsidiaries.
SAA dominates the market with its main brand supported by LCC subsidiary Mango and regional subsidiary SA Express. Comair operates a full-service British Airways franchise and competes in the LCC market with its Kulula brand. The two groups probably have until about the middle of 2013 to consolidate their positions in anticipation of an inevitable new entrant, likely to come from former 1time executives who appear to be planning to launch new LCC Skywise early in 2013.