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Jun 30, 2011

Macdonald Holdings sells Velvet Sky to Excalibur Aerospace

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Three months after Velvet Sky took to the skies, Durban-based steel and engineering group Macdonald Holdings announced on Thursday that it would sell its stake in the low-cost airline for an undisclosed amount.

Velvet Sky would be picked up by a service provider to the aviation industry, Excalibur Aerospace, which would further expand the airline into Africa.

Macdonald Holdings chairperson Cecil Reddy said that aviation was not the company’s core offering, which was why it decided to sell its majority stake in Velvet. “Excalibur Aerospace will no doubt continue to grow the business through their service-oriented approach, expansion plans into Africa and commitment to providing affordable air travel to South African commuters,” he added.

Excalibur chairperson Stephen Nthite said that the company had an aggressive expansion model that would be supported by its strategic partnership with a low-cost Indian carrier, which was yet to be named.

Velvet Sky saw its inaugural flight take off from OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg to Durban on March 22, and had since been operating a Boeing 737, which it sourced from international aircraft leasing company Aergo.

Excalibur planned to introduce three additional aircraft to the Velvet Sky fleet within the next 12 months, with the first being introduced by mid-August.

Other competitors in the low-cost carrier business include 1time, which has an 18-aircraft fleet, Mango which has five aircraft and with 24 planes.

The South African National Taxi Council also announced this week that it planned to enter the budget airline space.

Velvet Sky CEO Dhevan Pillay and COO Gary Webb would retain their positions at the company.

Edited by: Mariaan Webb
Creamer Media Senior Researcher and Deputy Editor Online
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