South Africa Budget Airlines


You know the drill. In every big airport there are the bully carriers which think they own the place, and the lowlifes which scuttle around like cockroaches. The latter, otherwise known as “budget airlines,” are proving hardy, persistent and six-legged. (Actually, not the last part.)

South Africa currently has three budget airlines: 1time, kulula.com and (a very new & distant third, but currently offering ridiculously low JHB-CPT prices) Interlink Airlines. They operate like other budget-class carriers, in that they offer substantially lower fares than the bullies, fly limited routes, emphasize completing the trip over making the customer comfortable, and run into snags with some frequency.

The best budget airline route to fly is Cape Town to Jo’burg and back. This route has the most demand, so it’s where the carriers put their resources, and is thus more likely to run smoothly. And the fares really are good: sometimes you can get a one-way on this route for just R400.

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Between the three cockroachs, I mean carriers, SA Blog adjudges that 1time has the edge. It’s somehow more pleasant. In the world of budget flying that counts for a lot. Note that SA Blog has not tested Interlink Airlines, so can’t comment on the service.

Nationwide Airlines, meanwhile, represents a cross between the cockroaches and the big bully on the block, SAA. It’s not as cheap as 1time or kulula, but it’s cheaper than SAA, and its serivce and amenities are just as good.