TIR Apr_May18.pdf - Page 26



AIRLINES
The Gatwick Option
WHILE the large majority
of South African travellers
to London fly to Heathrow
Airport – they don’t have any
choice – passengers departing
from Cape Town have the
option of choosing the British
Airways direct, non-stop service into Gatwick during the
airline’s UK winter schedule.
Why wouldn’t they want
to avoid the inconvenience
and additional time involved
in connecting over Johannesburg, the Gulf, Istanbul,
Addis Ababa or other points
in Europe? After all, there is
no doubt that 99.9 percent of
people would prefer a direct
and, even better, a non-stop
flight. It saves time, often a
lot, and inconvenience, also
a lot.
The reason, of course, is
that frequent flyer benefits
can come into play and convenience is a competitive thing,
an attraction the airlines can
promote and sell successfully,
fill their aircraft with higher-yield traffic, so that costs.
It means those non-stop fares
are usually higher than on the
multitude of indirect services.
That does not deter the
target market. Load factors
and yields are high, the airline
is happy and the passengers
are happy to pay for the extra
time and convenience. Not to
be overlooked are retailers’
customers, who are pleased
to have been advised of the
option.
Thomas Cook Airlines
began its first Cape Town
– Gatwick service in
November, which
is generally
a lower-cost ticket but both
airlines are mainly targeting
the more lucrative and much
larger UK-originating market,
so capacity out of Cape Town
is limited and the usual sales
pitch to book early is wise advice. The British Airways and
Thomas Cook operations are
seasonal, with both expected
to be back in November for
the 2018/19 UK winter/SA
summer.
Gatwick has traditionally
been perceived as a secondary
airport in there UK, catering
to the low-cost market. And it
was, in fact, the hub of inclusive tour charter operators in
the early days of that phenomenon, when packages sold
in the UK to Europe and the
Caribbean began to expand
and Gatwick was key to the
explosive growth of packaged
holidays and integral to the
massive growth in tourism
development in Spain, other
European countries, North
Africa, particularly Egypt,
Tunisia and Morocco, and the
Caribbean.
The Gatwick option has
other benefits in addition to
the non-stop flight. There are
connections to more than
200 destinations, including
some points most applicable
from a convenience standpoint for South Africans
travelling to North America,
the Caribbean, Central and
South America and
many destina-
tions in Europe not served
directly out of South Africa,
including Scandinavia.
And there is a GatwickConnect service where
passengers take their bags to
the desk in the baggage claim
area, exit through Customs
and security to the departure
lounge for the next flight.
Non-premium ticket holders
can also shorten the security
process by purchasing entry
to the Premium Security lane,
further reducing hassle and
time.
The Gatwick Express rail
service from the airport takes
just 20 minutes into Victoria
Station and there are frequent
rail services to the south
coast.
For travel agents, there is
the opportunity of adding
value by advising customers
heading on holiday to onward
foreign destinations of a huge
variety of packages, which
can be cheaper if booked
and packaged through a UK
operator.
And for clients at the pinnacle end of the market, there
is an available, independently
operated Signature Elite Class
product, which bypasses the
main terminals, provides a
private lounge, private security
screen-
By John Wardall
ing and a chauffeured car
directly to the aircraft. Inbound, it includes being met
at the aircraft by a car and
taken to a lounge for dedicated Customs and Immigration
clearance.
For other premium passengers, British Airways’
move to the South Terminal
has resulted in a new lounge,
which it touts as the best in
its network, with table-service dining in First, original
artworks, shower suites and
a Kidzone, with games and
seating outside the glazed
walls, so parents can keep
tabs on their offspring.
Not to miss an opportunity, Gatwick has a huge
duty-free shopping mall, and
one of the best in the business, which passengers have
to walk through to get to the
departure gates. No excuses
for getting home without the
mandatory peace offerings!
For Capetonians braving
the British winter or connecting to the many winter and
tropical resorts served out of
the airport, Gatwick
is a no-brainer.
E The Gatwick Express is the
fastest, most convenient link
to London.
26 Travel Industry Review | February/March 2018

Indada South Africa





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