Ever wondered why we don’t fly to places like Pofadder, or Parys? Some reasons are obvious. For one, we’d find it difficult to land there without a runway. For the not so clear, here’s a brief look at how we choose our routes.
kulula operates a fleet of Boeing 737-800 aircrafts with 189 seats. This allows us to spread the cost of operating a flight over 189 seats, but it only works if we can fill most of these seats consistently, 365 days a year. On smaller destinations, we could not achieve this high seat occupancy consistently, making it uneconomical to operate our fleet on the smaller routes.
We would need to operate a smaller aircraft with 70 seats. While the operating cost per flight would be 20% less, we would have 63% less seats and would still have to spread the cost and have full capacity 365 days a year while new costs that come with setting up the ground operations would also need to be taken into account. Ultimately, the average cost per seat, and our required ticket price, could be more than double the typical fare on a Cape Town or Durbs flight. As the economy of an area grows, the demand for flights will grow and this will eventually justify flying a larger aircraft with a low cost per seat, to ensure the ticket prices can remain affordable.
Exploring new frontiers
Whilst our opportunity to further expand our network locally may be relatively limited, spreading our wings further north into sub-Saharan Africa does present some opportunities. The first rule in selecting a new route is to ensure that it will provide a sustainable return so we can continue to fly you to the destination at a reasonable cost, and contribute positively towards our overall network of routes. Codeshare agreements such as our partnership with Kenya Airways and Air France allow us to offer flights to other African countries or sell our beautiful country to travellers from abroad.
What goes into the planning of a new destination?
The timeline for adding a new destination includes in-depth market and resource analysis, planning and execution, finding staff, finding equipment, planning catering and seeking approval and budget. This can generally take between 6 months and up to two years and there are multiple steps in the process to determine the feasibility of a new destination. This process involves many business departments and stakeholders such as our Executive Team Revenue Management, Sales, Marketing, Government Affairs, Legal, Communications and our Corporate Programme Office. So, an idea that began with one department ultimately broadens to include the entire business working together to support and successfully implement a new route for our fans.
We’re not done yet though because there’s an African continent to conquer and fans across the land want to fly somewhere. So continue to check out our routes and schedules to see where else you can book your next flight to with kulula.