South African shadow tourism minister Greg Krumbock has accused the country’s national carrier, South African Airways, of seeking to engineer a World Cup monopoly.

Krumbock, of the Democratic Alliance, said a study had shown that SAA’s prices were still between two to three times higher than any other airline in the country for flights surrounding vital matches.

He said: “Our study shows that the cost of flights being charged by SAA the day before major World Cup matches far exceeds the ticket prices of their competitors, hinting that SAA may wait until flights on other airliners are booked up, and then use the resulting monopoly to charge extortionate prices.”

The survey looks at flights for the quarter final, semi final and final of the World Cup, which takes place this June and July. Four other airlines were benchmarked alongside SAA, which was found to have the most expensive prices on all of the dates. The least expensive flight offered by SAA the day before the quarter final was R3630 (£323) – R2431 (£216) more expensive than a flight with 1time (the second most expensive of the surveyed airlines) and R2749 (£244) more than BA (which was the cheapest).

The Democratic Alliance is now calling on newly appointed SAA CEO Siza Mzimela to explain the reason for SAA’s ‘massively inflated flight prices’, among other issues.

Despite the dispute, South African tourism is flourishing according to 2009’s foreign arrival statistics. The destination outperformed most international markets to record a growth in foreign arrivals of 3.6 per cent, with 9.9 million foreign arrivals last year, compared to 9.6 million in 2008.

“Our status as the FIFA 2010 World Cup host nation has, undoubtedly, played its part in arrivals growth to our destination,” said minister of tourism, Marthinus van Schalkwyk. “However, robust and committed marketing campaigns by our destination marketing organisation, South African Tourism, as well as by our industry have also driven growth.

“As a whole the figures for 2009 are a feather in the cap of our entire tourism industry and I trust it will inspire everyone to pull out all the stops and put our special South African touch on the last preparations for the World Cup.”

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