Staff Reporter WINDHOEK – Airlink yesterday confirmed that in response to market requests it will introduce further capacity to its Johannesburg-to-Walvis Bay services. Airlink will introduce one of its newly acquired 74-seat Embraer 170 E-Jets to the route, which will provide customers with enhanced comfort by way of 68 economy class seats with a generous seat pitch, and six expansive business class seats. The E-Jet cabin layout features two plus two abreast seating, with large eye-level windows allowing in lots of natural light, and ample overhead bin space to accommodate carry-on items. Every seat offers either a window or an aisle option. Airlink said in a statement that it looks forward to setting a new standard for guests using its services on the route. Benefits for Airlink travellers include Voyager Miles as well as seamless connections with SAA and its global partner flights. Airlink traces its roots to three small carriers — Magnum Airlines, Border Air and City Air —which merged in the 1980s to form Link Airways. That airline was liquidated in 1992 and bought out by two of its directors, Rodger Foster and Barrie Webb, and soon re-launched as Airlink. Since then it’s grown to become the largest independent airline in the region, serving 37 destinations in nine countries, carrying 1.5 million passengers per year. From the onset, Airlink’s strategy has been to operate as a regional feeder carrier, focusing on smaller centers ignored by larger carriers competing on the trunk routes between Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban. Airlink is especially prominent by its absence on the crowded Johannesburg-Cape Town route. The busiest air sector in Africa, with more than 34 000 flights and 4.7 million passengers in 2017, it’s long been the crown jewel for South African carriers, and a launch pad for fledgling budget carriers. There’s enormous demand, but also plenty of competition. With its many smaller destinations, Airlink is often the only show in town and the airline has been savvy in aligning its fleet to demand. “The trick with any airline is to offer as many frequencies as you can to grow the market,” said Linden Birns, independent aviation consultant at Plane Talking. “What Airlink has done very well is to look at where the markets are, and to use the right gauge of aircraft to serve them.” While Boeing 737s are the workhorse on most regional routes in Africa, Airlink’s mixed fleet has served it well. The carrier operates everything from Cessna Grand Caravans, for its safari lodge service, through to a new 98-seater Embraer ERJ190-AR. This latest addition grabbed headlines in late 2017 when it touched down on the British-held island of St. Helena, the first scheduled commercial flights in the island’s 500-year history.
New Era Reporter
2018-07-11 09:33:07 4 months ago