South African Airways scraps FIFA transport deal for World Cup

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The Independent Travel

South African Airways said Tuesday that it will drop a deal with Match, FIFA's official hospitality partner for the World Cup, to guarantee seats before and after games.

Those seats will now be available to the public at discounted rates, the airline said.

"We are very pleased to now be able to offer customers these tickets at reduced rates," said Ian Cruickshank, the airline's World Cup project leader.

"SAA and Match couldn't come to an agreement on the number of seats to be provided and the terms and conditions relating to this. The airline can no longer offer Match any special conditions for carriage on our aircraft," he said in a statement.

"We have done our utmost to assist them, but we cannot hold our tickets stock indefinitely while seat numbers keep changing. We would much rather make these tickets available to our own loyal customers," said Cruickshank.

Match had hoped to use the airline to ferry fans to and from smaller cities that might not have enough accommodation on match nights.

The airline said it remains open to discussions with Match, and would like to continue to provide assistance with leased aircraft that the organisation plans to use to ferry guests around South Africa.

That could include flights to countries like Mexico, which currently have no regular commercial service to South Africa, it added.

The airline's decision came amid pressure on carriers to lower airfares because of concerns that recession-weary fans might not make the long journey to South Africa.

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