NELSON Mandela Bay experienced an exceptional festive season despite the depressed local and global economy – a feat that has boosted the profits of the airlines servicing the city.
According to tourism officials, the city's hotels, guest houses and B&Bs experienced occupancy rates of up to 90% during the December holidays.
"Early indications show that we have had a good festive season. Occupancy rates were around 90% this year," said Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism chief executive Mandlakazi Skefile.
Mango, which launched routes to and from the Bay just in time for the holidays after its competitor, 1time, folded late last year, showed its best December results since its inception seven years ago.
It operated a record number of flights and achieved an average load of between 85% and 90%. Year-on-year revenue also rocketed by 60% compared with the same periodin 2011.
Mango chief executive Nico Bezuidenhout welcomed the good results, but said the growth could also have been a result of travellers opting for the airline's value, coupled with 1time's absence.
"This could be the silver lining in 2013, a year anticipated to show better growth overall," he said.
SAA – Mango's parent company – also experienced strong growth.
SAA's head of revenue optimisation and planning, Jerome Simelane, said growth was driven by business and leisure demand.
British Airways, the other airline servicing the Bay, did not respond to queries from The Herald.