BA South Africa Flights

Old Nov 12, 20, 10:10 am
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BA South Africa Flights

Apologies if this is a stupid question.
I'm planning on going to SA when it's safe again. Can anyone explain why it's twice as expensive to fly LHR to Durban as it is is to fly LHR to Cape Town when the distances are similar?
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Old Nov 12, 20, 10:20 am
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Availability probably?
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Old Nov 12, 20, 10:54 am
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Originally Posted by Can I help you View Post
Availability probably?
This is for early next October so I didn't think it was that
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Old Nov 12, 20, 11:15 am
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It has absolutely nothing to do with distance, but what the market will sustain. BA don't charge per mile! CPT is a very popular leisure market with various other airlines flying direct from the UK over the years, and tough competition from KLM particularly, and of course all the Middle East airlines offering easy one stop options with multiple flights per day. Durban on the other hand is a totally different market. BA have the only non-stop flight from Europe and can charge much higher fares for people who want that convenience.
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Old Nov 12, 20, 11:52 am
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Originally Posted by Jim98 View Post
Can anyone explain why it's twice as expensive to fly LHR to Durban as it is is to fly LHR to Cape Town when the distances are similar?
Originally Posted by Jim98 View Post
Originally Posted by Can I help you View Post
Availability probably?
This is for early next October so I didn't think it was that
It's so far away that there should still be plenty of tins of the cheaper brands of baked beans sitting on the shelf? Just like "pence per mile", availability doesn't work like that either. It's important to remember that "no availability" does not mean "flight is full".

The problem here absolutely is availability. The lowest available booking classes on flights to DUR are B, W and C, and only on the non-stop flights. There is no availability on BA-coded flights between JNB and DUR or between CPT and DUR, nor on SA. I don't remember any other airlines interlining with BA to take you on to DUR from either JNB or CPT. Hence the non-stops from London are your only BA option for getting to DUR.

It doesn't take much to work out why - even though the flights almost certainly have very few reservations on them - BA is only taking reservations for these flights at expensive fares.
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Old Nov 12, 20, 1:11 pm
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Thanks all for your help and advise. Makes sense now.
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Old Nov 12, 20, 1:20 pm
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That kind of availability pattern can also indicate uncertainty about whether the route will come back or continue.
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Old Nov 13, 20, 1:55 am
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Like others have mentioned, BA is in a monopoly on the Durban route so it's normal that prices are expensive compared to JNB & CPT where there is competition.

Also, yes, Durban is a route that is likely to be abandoned in the near future as BA had already retired lots of long-haul aircraft which means that they would definitely not operate what they have as a placeholder schedule.
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Old Nov 13, 20, 2:21 am
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Originally Posted by ISTFlyer View Post
Like others have mentioned, BA is in a monopoly on the Durban route so it's normal that prices are expensive compared to JNB & CPT where there is competition.

Also, yes, Durban is a route that is likely to be abandoned in the near future as BA had already retired lots of long-haul aircraft which means that they would definitely not operate what they have as a placeholder schedule.
Likely to be abandoned when it has very good yields? How do you know they definitely not operate? Why wouldn't they operate a good route and drop a second or 3rd rotation on another marginal route?
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Old Nov 13, 20, 2:42 am
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Obviously past performance is no guide to the future but in November 2019 I got two BA LHR DUR J returns for a shade under 1100pp (inc car / direct with BAH) - and only booked in August. I can't see now what bucket that fell into but it would suggest that fare buckets is indeed at the heart of this (CPT and JNB were considerably more for the same time period).
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Old Nov 13, 20, 2:43 am
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Originally Posted by CT-UK View Post
Likely to be abandoned when it has very good yields? How do you know they definitely not operate? Why wouldn't they operate a good route and drop a second or 3rd rotation on another marginal route?
I did not include any certainty in my post but Pittsburgh, Durban, Abu Dhabi, and Osaka were the only 4 long-haul routes that were postponed till April 2021. If DUR performed really well, why should then BA remove from their Winter schedule?

Also, the operating costs for x3 weekly flights at DUR may cost much more than operating an additional daily at JNB and directing passengers to a Comair codeshare. It's not all about the passenger load factor.

Plus, for routes with competition, a second daily or a third daily provides better connecting options for transfer passengers as BA could attract passengers that consider flying another airline at the first point. For Durban, as mentioned above, there is almost no competition as BA and TK are the only carriers that operate direct flights from Europe and both carriers are not operating the route at this time so BA could easily attract passengers going to Durban, even with a connection to Comair via JNB as the other available options are EK via DXB and QR via both DOH and Maputo. The Middle East detour would not be preferred due to the increase that causes in travel time.
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Old Nov 13, 20, 3:18 am
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Originally Posted by ISTFlyer View Post
Like others have mentioned, BA is in a monopoly on the Durban route so it's normal that prices are expensive compared to JNB & CPT where there is competition.
Is this what you were finding in practice? It's not what we usually saw.

And there has normally been plenty of competition on LON-DUR. BA is far from being a monopoly on this route. The only thing that BA has is one non-stop flight three times a week, operated at poor and inconvenient times. Against that, there is plenty of convenient and not-so-convenient one-stop competition. On four days of the week, it is a minimum of one stop between LON and DUR anyway, so one stop is not even a disadvantage. The one-stop competition includes LON-DXB-DUR on EK and LON-DOH-DUR on QR, and the latter means that you don't even have to go out of alliance if you're normally a BA customer.

At any rate, the supposed competitive advantage of a non-stop flight does not seem to be a plausible explanation for the non-stop flights only having J, C, W, Y and B class availability eleven months away from the flight. In present circumstances, both directly and indirectly related to the pandemic, it is not hard to understand why BA will only take reservations for the non-stop flights if you are prepared to pay an expensive fare, given the significant risk that BA may have to shell out for refunds or reaccommodation if, by October, it proves not to be possible or viable to operate these non-stops.
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Old Nov 13, 20, 3:45 am
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Originally Posted by Globaliser View Post
Is this what you were finding in practice? It's not what we usually saw.

And there has normally been plenty of competition on LON-DUR. BA is far from being a monopoly on this route. The only thing that BA has is one non-stop flight three times a week, operated at poor and inconvenient times. Against that, there is plenty of convenient and not-so-convenient one-stop competition. On four days of the week, it is a minimum of one stop between LON and DUR anyway, so one stop is not even a disadvantage. The one-stop competition includes LON-DXB-DUR on EK and LON-DOH-DUR on QR, and the latter means that you don't even have to go out of alliance if you're normally a BA customer.

At any rate, the supposed competitive advantage of a non-stop flight does not seem to be a plausible explanation for the non-stop flights only having J, C, W, Y and B class availability eleven months away from the flight. In present circumstances, both directly and indirectly related to the pandemic, it is not hard to understand why BA will only take reservations for the non-stop flights if you are prepared to pay an expensive fare, given the significant risk that BA may have to shell out for refunds or reaccommodation if, by October, it proves not to be possible or viable to operate these non-stops.
The OP was the first one to claim that DUR is significantly expensive and I could claim this via fare screenshots through ITA Matrix. Here are the lowest 4-10 day interval roundtrip prices for all CPT, JNB, DUR on BA. The search is filtered for BA direct flights only.

Here is the situation for May 2021; the situation is similar for other months as well.

*I've also checked the fares for all three routes; CPT had the most expensive fares with JNB and DUR having almost identical fare coding.







By the way, I also checked some other routes for 11 months advance and the situation is not similar to Durban.
Though, for this route, I agree that there are EK and QR within the competition but passengers who prefer convenience would be more lenient towards BA.

Note: Comair & Kulula is probably in a hard situation ( business rescue ) so I can't price LHR-JNB-DUR on BA with the second leg on a BA codeshare flight.
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Old Nov 13, 20, 3:47 am
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I'm sure I read in the SA press, that when BA took over one of the slots at Heathrow from SAA, part of the agreement was to increase the number of cities (Durban) with direct connections from London. That said the flight timings were a bit naff, leaving LHR at 16:00 arriving 05:30 in Durban, but the return flight at 07:30 meant there were no connections for it, When we flew out last December the out bound flight was full the return was half empty
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Old Nov 13, 20, 4:31 am
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Originally Posted by Swanhunter View Post
That kind of availability pattern can also indicate uncertainty about whether the route will come back or continue.
It's this. It's every flight. in both directions in 2021. It's indicative of no decision made as to whether they will operate the route. Slot sitter in the schedule if you like. If you book at the higher fare and they pull it, they'll rebook you via CPT/JNB. If they sell 500 returns in Y and have to rebook they'll lose money.

Keep a look out until a decision is made, set up an alert.
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