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Durban consumers cry foul over food prices — but was it profiteering?

“As is always the case, some of those cheaper seats were actually well below the operating costs — in other words, loss-making, so there was no betrayal of the model that is always in play.

“No punitive measures were imposed on these particular flights.”

Conceding that it was a particularly high-demand period, Gordon said the money made per seat was less than what the airline made in normal high-demand circumstances, compared to the average price per seat in the December peak in 2016.

“The nature of pricing in aviation is that we have to achieve higher prices in some periods to offset the losses in lower periods. This month to date on that route our average cost per seat is dismal, and if you factor in the return leg — an aircraft has to fly in to fly out — it’s all loss making.”

Rather than sit back and take advantage of higher prices on those outbound Durban flights, he said: “We actively sought to add additional capacity into the market which serves to up the supply and bring down the prices.

“Fortunately we had capacity available to do so — in ordinary circumstances when all capacity would be deployed, this may not have been an option.”

In addition, Gordon said, FlySafair offered 500kg of free cargo on every flight into Durban between last Thursday and Monday this week for aid and relief.

“In total that equated to 22 tonnes of food, medicines and other essentials that we carried in. We also offered local businesses who were cut off because of the closed highways preferential rates on air cargo to support them.

“We moved 97 tonnes at a tiny margin above cost for these people.”

TimesLIVE

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