1time opens second international route; currently largest LCC in South Africa

Image: 1time MD80 aircraft
Spreading out like an eagle: 1time has made the same choice as its fellow low-cost carrier Allegiant Air in the United States. The low acquisition cost of MD80 series aircraft is considered to outweigh its fuel-burn penalty. We are pleased to credit our friends at www.southafrica.to for this photo and to commend their site for offering some of the best deals to and from South Africa.

The South African low-cost carrier 1time started operations in February 2004 as South Africa’s second LCC after the British Airways franchisee Comair had set up its low-cost subsidiary Kulula.com in August 2001. After 1 year and 8 months’ operations, 1time carried its one-millionth passenger. The threat of the popularity of these airlines led to South African Airways setting up the country’s third low-cost airline, Mango, in November 2006. This makes 1time the only South African low-cost carrier to be independent from any other airline.

This exceptionally low-cost commercial gets anna.aero’s nomination as the funniest airline advert of all time.

Unlike the majority of low-cost carriers, 1time operates a fleet of MD80 series aircraft. The airline’s marketing campaigns initially focussed on its “no-nonsense” product, but have lately included the introduction of rental PlayStation Portable (PSP) devices and efforts to try to win business passengers over from the legacy carriers.

Chart: South Africa’s top 12 airlines - Weekly departing seat capacity from South African airports
Source: OAG Max Online and FlyMango.com for w/c 7 December 2009

Of these low-cost carriers, 1time is the largest, offering the most seat capacity this winter. As the third largest airline in the South African market, it is only well behind the dominant South African Airways and marginally after British Airways (mainline and Comair operations combined).

Chart: 1time vs ZA domestic traffic 2005-2008 - Annual passengers (millions)
Source: 1time and ACSA
Map: South Africa

In 2008, the South African airports reported 22.6 million domestic passengers. The same year, 1time transported 1.6 million passengers, almost exclusively on domestic services. This means an approximate 7% share of the domestic market as a whole for 1time. Rather than setting a target for the entire domestic market, the airline’s target is to achieve a 12% market share on the routes it operates.

Leading LCC by frequency on 8 out of 10 routes

Having started off as a domestic-only operator, 1time now also offers international routes. In February 2008, flights to Zanzibar in Tanzania were launched and this week has seen the launch of services to Livingstone in Zambia.

Route WF Competition (weekly frequency)
Johannesburg – Cape Town 47 South African Airways (134), British Airways (70), Kulula.com (39), Mango (34)
Johannesburg – Durban 42 South African Airways (110), British Airways (42), Mango (30), Kulula.com (28)
Cape Town – Durban 19 South African Airways (33), Mango (19), British Airways (17), Kulula.com (7)
Johannesburg – Port Elizabeth 11 South African Airways (41), British Airways (25)
Cape Town – Port Elizabeth 9 South African Airways (52), Kulula.com (7)
Johannesburg – George 9 South African Airways (29), Kulula.com (15)
Johannesburg – East London 9 South African Airways (40)
Cape Town – East London 6 South African Airways (31)
Johannesburg – Livingstone 4 South African Airways (8), British Airways (7)
Johannesburg – Zanzibar 2 None
Source: OAG Max Online and Mango.com for w/c 7 December 2009
WF: Weekly Frequency

Although the full-service carrier South African Airways offers more frequencies than 1time on all routes other than on 1time’s monopoly route to Zanzibar, 1time offers more flights than any other low-cost carrier on all of its routes except for Johannesburg-George, where Kulula.com is the leading LCC, and Cape Town-Durban, where it offers the same frequency as Mango.

1time sure knows how to make an entrance: This great photo (it is real!) was taken at the 2007 Currie Cup Semi Final at the Free State Stadium before the rugby game between the two rivalling teams The Vodacom Blue Bulls and The Vodacom Free State Cheetahs. 1time sponsored the Free State Cheetahs, which (needless to say) won the cup that year.


  1. Vanni Gibertini says:

    1time introduced the on-board rental of Portable Playstations in order to attract business passengers? What kind of business do these business passengers exactly do?

    anna.aero replies: 1time introduced PSP devices as well as making efforts to win business passengers over. There is no intended connection between the two other than that they both reflect more recent marketing campaigns.

    • The reporting was slightly off. It was a marketing campaign to entertain passengers on board. Aimed at CHILDREN to keep them busy… and then after about 6 months after the introduction, the stats showed that more adult men were ordering the play stations for themselves, than moms for kids. Bizarre. It is a unique offering. Being a low cost carrier, you expect no frills… not with 1time. More Nice. Less Price.

  2. Riaan says:

    Did you take into account Kulula’s departures from Lanseria airport (Johannesburg)?

  3. James says:

    Lanseria departures is most probably taken into account, seeing that Interlink is on there, which should be from Wonderboom, which btw mostly isn’t operating at the moment yet. 1Time beats Kulula on the coastal routes, JNB an CPT to ELS, where Kulula doesn’t fly. Kulula doesn’t fly to PLZ from JNB at all, parent BA/Comair. Kulula has no international flights of it’s own.
    That British Airways figure obviously include BA from the UK on the long-haul flights to LHR from both JNB and CPT + BA/Comair of South Africa on domestic and regional flights…practically two airlines. If subtracting BA long-haul, 1time would end up probably being 2nd on that list.
    Also note that 1Time received permission to fly JNB to Maputo last week.
    Why is there on that map a CPT-GRJ route, but not mentioned anywhere, don’t think they fly that route…yet?

    anna.aero replies: Although it is correct that the ranking of airlines in South Africa as a whole includes Lanseria flights, the table of 1time’s routes and frequencies only lists flights in direct competition with 1time at Johannesburg OR Tambo International. Indeed, it would be fair to mention Lanseria flights as well, since the airports only are 60 kilometres apart. Kulula.com offers an additional 37 weekly flights from Lanseria to Cape Town and 21 weekly from Lanseria to Durban.
    Interesting observation about the CPT-GRJ route on the route map. Not sure why that is. We have used a recent version of the airline’s own route map and only added the JNB-LVI route.

  4. I disagree with your comment of you using 1time’s own routemap illustration. I can tell you right now, as the national marketing manager, that the map you have illustrated here has been altered. our map doesn’t have the george cape town link (because we don’t fly there) and we also don’t have the illustrations of the vic falls at the Livingstone point, nor the palm tree illustration at Zanzibar’s point. So someone in your art department thought it was a good idea to make that change.

    • Thanks for commenting, Anya. The route map we used is from your 2008 annual report, since it appeared to be more up to date than the map on your website, which didn’t include the Zanzibar route. As we published this article the same week as the Livingstone route was launched, we just added that route and the waterfall illustration.

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