Stone Town: Award-winning low-cost airline Mango’s direct flights between Johannesburg and Zanzibar continue to gain momentum as the island makes significant inroads as a value destination for South Africans. Since commencing flights in 2013 with a single weekly flight, Mango has doubled its weekly capacity into Zanzibar with peak holiday periods seeing traveler and flight volumes quadruple at times. Last year the airline carried well over 26 000 Guests to and from the island.
“Zanzibar’s appeal as a holiday destination for South Africans continues to grow,” says CEO Nico Bezuidenhout. “Accommodation options across all levels of comfort is available across the isle’s 263 leisure properties of which only 20 are classified as five star plus. This has made Zanzibar very accessible to South African tourists across many levels of affordability.” The destination’s popularity is such that the airline’s capacity near quadruples during high-demand days over peak times. “We are already considering additional frequencies for the year-end period as sustained growth continues.”
Various sources indicate an aggregate of 175 000 tourists that visited Zanzibar last year, with South Africans representing approximately 10% of all inbound tourism into Zanzibar. Mango’s market share is pegged at around 70% at this time and the airline is the only carrier to offer direct flights between South Africa and the island. According to sources, tourism represents approximately 70% of foreign currency earnings and employs around 55 000 persons directly and indirectly with growth in inbound tourism projected to exceed 15% annually with between a (presently 20%) 25-27% contribution to Zanzibar’s GDP.
Beyond South African outbound leisure travel to Zanzibar, Mango is also looking to other markets to further drive growth on the route. “South Africa could serve as a gateway to the island from markets such as the Americas and Australasia, largely untapped, while we are also actively investigating broader distribution channels and consumer engagement opportunities in Zanzibar and Tanzania as a source market for inbound travel into South Africa,” notes Bezuidenhout.
Johannesburg Zanzibar was Mango’s first foray into Africa. “It has been a success story for us and,” adds Bezuidenhout, “a starting block for measured, but continued regional growth.” He says that the leisure market will continue to be a focus for route development beyond domestic borders, “with the demand-side potential and the economy being determining factors in our ongoing business development strategy.” Prudence has been a mantra at the airline since its launch a decade ago, serving the carrier well in a market where new market entrants saw rapid growth exhausting resources and leaving consumers stranded. By traveler volume Mango is today the largest domestic airline.