Driving vs Flying in South Africa – This is the cheaper option – TopAuto
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Sunday / 26 June 2022
HomeFeaturesDriving vs Flying in South Africa – This is the cheaper option

Driving vs Flying in South Africa – This is the cheaper option

It’s cheaper to fly long distances in South Africa than it is to drive there – if you are traveling alone.

This was determined after weighing up the costs of driving and flying from Johannesburg to Durban, and Johannesburg to Cape Town.

To see how the cost of driving and flying in South Africa stack up, we ran the calculations below.

The cars

The vehicles used for this article, and their official consumption figures, are as follows:

Using the TopAuto Driving Cost Calculator, we worked out the amount you will spend on fuel, e-tolls, and toll gates to drive from Johannesburg to either Durban or Cape Town.

March 2022 inland rates – which are R19.55 per litre for Diesel 50ppm and R21.60 per litre for Petrol 95 – were used for the fuel costs.

Assuming you’re traveling back in the same month and no fuel price adjustments took place while you were on holiday, the cost of driving home should be the same.

The airlines

To qualify for this comparison, the airlines we selected had to offer routes to both Durban and Cape Town.

The options included:

We booked the hypothetical flights for one adult at least one month in advance and directly from the operator’s website in an effort to avoid inflated ticket prices.

To keep the prices consistent, we scheduled the various trips for early mornings or late nights on Wednesday 20 April – which is over five weeks away from the date of booking – as these tended to be the cheapest flights available.

The price we took includes a return ticket scheduled to take off on 27 April, one week after arrival.

The results

The tables below show the costs of driving and flying from O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg to either King Shaka International Airport in Durban, or Cape Town International Airport in Cape Town.

From these tables, it is clear that in most cases flying is the more affordable option when you are travelling alone.

However, extra costs such as renting a vehicle at your destination and potentially paying for long-term parking for your car at the airport were not taken into account.

Driving also allows you to travel with more cargo and more people at low additional costs. If you fly with multiple people, you must book a ticket for each person.

The possible wear and tear on a vehicle and the safety risk of being on the road for extended periods of time will likely play a role in a motorist’s decisions on how to travel, too.


Johannesburg to Durban

Car Round-trip
Ford Ranger 3.2TDCI Double Cab 4×4 XLT Auto R2,668
Toyota Corolla Cross Xs R2,364
VW Polo 70kW Life R1,998
Airline Round-trip
Airlink R1,354
FlySafair R2,088
South African Airways R1,458


Johannesburg to Cape Town

Car Round-trip
Ford Ranger 3.2TDCI Double Cab 4×4 XLT Auto R5,316
Toyota Corolla Cross Xs R4,602
VW Polo 70kW Life R3,744
Airline Round-trip
Airlink R2,264
FlySafair R2,588
South African Airways R2,775


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