S.African taxi group plans budget airline

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The Independent Travel

South Africa's mini-bus taxi industry wants to launch a new budget airline by year-end, targeting underserved markets, Business Day newspaper reported Thursday.

The South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) said it would partner with AirQuarius, a charter company based at Johannesburg's Lanseria International Airport that would provide 100-seat aircraft, crew and aviation licenses.

The new airline will be called Santaco Express and be based in Bhisho, the capital of Eastern Cape province, one of the poorest regions in South Africa. Santaco plans to list the airline on the Johannesburg exchange.

Danie Coetzee, Santaco's aviation consultant, said the agreement with AirAquarius should be finalised this week, according to the paper.

South Africa's mini-bus taxis are the backbone of public transportation, carrying 16 million people every day, but their also known for erratic driving and sometimes violent disputes over fares and routes.

"I can assure you we won't allow our taxi drivers to drive the planes," Santaco business development officer Nkululeko Buthelezi said.

Santaco Express plans to offer daily flights from Bhisho to Johannesburg and Cape Town. Tickets will cost about 600 rand ($88, 60 euros) and include the taxi ride to and from the airport.

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