For SAA to fly, it needs pros in the cockpit, government in economy class
Airlines are gobbling up its routes, but hopefully lessons have been learnt and once-proud carrier will take off soon
I was recently invited to Victoria Falls to see the work of a tenacious black female entrepreneur who has opened a five-star boutique hotel in the prime resort town. They desperately need tourists back marvelling at those majestic falls on the mighty Zambezi.
For its flaws, the Zimbabwean government is doing right by the small town. It kick-started that country’s vaccination programme there and now all its 50,000 inhabitants have been vaccinated, making Victoria Falls the first town in the world to achieve herd immunity. They are using the Chinese Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines, and have so far inoculated close to 500,000 people across the country. That’s fewer than 5% of the population. Locals get the vaccine free, but the government has opened it up to foreigners who are willing to pay $70 (about R980) a jab. I was tempted. Dr Zweli Mkhize, please get your act together.
When the invitation landed on my desk, there were two issues I had to get around: how to get to Vic Falls from Johannesburg and the requirements for leaving your country during a pandemic. Zim requires a PCR Covid-19 test conducted 48 hours before entry. That was easy to arrange. With that out of the way, the next question was how to get myself there given the sorry state of our local aviation industry. Not to fret, my hosts had it covered. Regional no-frills carrier Fastjet operates a service between Johannesburg/Cape Town and Victoria Falls (Joburg route to be upgraded to a daily service from May 30). It also has daily flights between Johannesburg and Harare. The carrier uses 50-seater Embraer 145 jets that are renowned in the industry for fuel efficiency. It gets you where you want to go on time, and that’s all an airline has to get right. ..