kulula warns of skyrocketing airport charges

(Accumulative increase of 161 percent by ACSA in five years)

Johannesburg, 1 June 2011: kulula.com, operated by Comair Limited, has warned consumers of an impending increase in airport charges by the Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA) that will ultimately see consumers having to pay more for airfares.

ACSA is set to raise passenger charges and landing fees by 35 percent as proposed by the airline industry regulator. This comes on the back of a 33 percent increase in 2010. This year's increase is expected to be followed by a further 31 percent raise in 2012, which will result in an accumulative increase of 161 percent by ACSA over five years.

Joint CEO at Comair, Erik Venter says, "The increase by ACSA comes at a time when average airfares have been declining while fuel prices have increased dramatically. The increase threatens the growth of air travel in South Africa and will have a negative knock on effect on the competitiveness of South Africa as a tourist destination and the broader economy. Budget sensitive travelers will be the hardest hit, as half of airfares will now go towards ACSA's airport charges."

"ACSA is now calling on users of its airports to fund its financial shortfall. "In this freely competitive environment it is unlikely that local airlines will be able to absorb the 161 percent proposed increase in an industry where margins are consistently under pressure," says Venter.

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), South Africa has amongst the highest airport charges in the world in relation to local airfares. "The South African tourism industry depends heavily on affordable air travel into and around our country. The Airlines Association will have to continue to work very closely with the regulator to promote a healthy industry and protect the interests of air travellers in South Africa," concludes Venter.