The South African online travel industry is booming, with local companies reporting annual increases of between 45% and 200% in online bookings. says it has seen significant growth since it became the first to launch an online air travel booking service in March 2001.

“We [] have achieved a consistent year-on-year growth of 200% each year for online sales,” says Richard Mkhondo, executive manager of corporate communications at The other airlines offering online bookings say they have also seen satisfactory growth.

“Bookings average out to 38 900 a month, which means that 70% of our bookings are done online,” says Desmond O' Conner, commercial manager at 1time airline. experienced a 45% increase in online bookings over the past year to increase its total of online customers to 650 000 per year, says Gidon Novick, the airline's executive director.

This follows Kulula's recent online revenue record of R75 million during November last year.

The increase in online bookings is a combination of a huge shift of passengers from the big airlines and a 20% increase in the overall market, says O' Conner.

With the number of travellers booking online increasing exponentially, 1time recently acquired a 157-seater MD82 aircraft and is expecting another in March, says O' Conner. This will double the 1time fleet, which used to consist of three 110-seater aircrafts.

Experts believe more people are turning to online bookings because of the cheaper ticket prices. “By cutting out the travel agent, there is no 20% distribution fee, so it is cheaper for the traveller,” says O' Conner.