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TNW pick of the week: Velvet Sky – ‘We’re here to stay’

posted May 16, 2011, 4:17 AM by Rowan Hewitt

16 Mon, May 2011

After irate travellers expressed their dissatisfaction with new low-cost carrier, Velvet Sky, on hellopeter.com, TNW decided to fly the airline and see what the fuss was about, and was pleasantly surprised. Natasha Tippel reports.

A WEEK after launching flights in early March this year, customers of new carrier, Velvet Sky, took their complaints to online customer service site, hellopeter.com, and slated the airline after they were delayed at OR Tambo airport for several hours due to a thunderstorm.

As a result of the delay, the cabin crew and pilots exceeded their duty time and the airline had to contact and fly in new crew from Durban, therefore increasing the delay even further, said chairman of Velvet Sky, Cecil Reddy, whom TNW was lucky enough to meet and speak with on a flight from Johannesburg to Durban.

“We were under-resourced and at 90% capacity. Perhaps we should have waited until we had more resources before introducing our launch special fares into the market,” Cecil says. “However, our passengers were offered food and beverages as well as accommodation or a refund on the ticket for the flight.”

Things are running much more smoothly now, says Cecil. The airline plans to increase frequencies once it acquires two more aircraft this month and another two in June. Cecil also confirmed plans to launch flights into Africa at some stage.

The focus of the airline, Cecil says, is on service. “Prices are much of a muchness. Customer experience is what counts and we want to be able to offer our clients personalised service. For example, offering customers a free flight after they’ve flown with us a certain amount of times, giving out free refreshments on board, and employing quality staff of a certain calibre.”