Oct 31, 2018: After increasing four new weekly services between London and Johannesburg recently, British Airways’ has once again spread its wings into the South African market with the launch of non-stop flights between London and Durban. The new direct air service from Heathrow Airport to King Shaka International Airport will be operated three times a week with the latest fleet of aircraft, the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner.

Commenting during the welcoming ceremony held at King Shaka International Airport, Sihle Zikalala, KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs stated, “We are here to celebrate the launch of British Airways flight between Durban and London. It is important that we continually remind ourselves of the central role that air services play in stimulating economic development. New international and regional air routes open up new opportunities across a full spectrum of sectors including tourism and leisure, business and commercial, cargo and manufacturing.”

There are currently some 100,000 passengers, who travel between Durban and the United Kingdom every year. This new route will tap directly into this latent demand.

Phindile Makwakwa, acting chief executive of Tourism KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) highlighted the fact that the British Airways has already indicated that inward-bound forward bookings are looking extremely good and that this has been welcomed by the local tourism and business sector, which is predicting a boom this holiday season. “The impact of the introduction of new air services has already delivered dividends for the people of the province of KwaZulu-Natal, but at the same time, the growth of the international passenger market in KwaZulu-Natal indicates to us that there is still a largely untapped and growing market within the province,” she added.

Neville Matjie, CEO for Trade & Investment KwaZulu-Natal, said that he is confident that the launch of more direct international flights will inject a lucrative boost for foreign direct investment for the province.

The air connectivity is the catalyst to opening up new markets from both a passenger side and the movement of goods, which is critical to growing tourism and economic development in the region. Hamish Erskine, CEO of Dube TradePort Corporation commented, “There has been a concerted effort to grow air services into Durban, an intergovernmental structure comprising the Airports Company South Africa, Department of Economic Development, Tourism & Environmental Affairs, Dube TradePort Corporation, Tourism KwaZulu-Natal, Trade and Investment KwaZulu-Natal, KwaZulu-Natal Department of Transport and the Municipalities of eThekwini and Ilembe has been established to coordinate and promote international air services into King Shaka International Airport, under the umbrella of Durban Direct.”

The arrival of British Airways for Durban-to-London route will make an important contribution not only to growing passenger numbers but also to enhancing the international status of King Shaka International Airport as a hub for economic growth in the region, said Terence Delomoney, general manager of King Shaka remarked.

At the same time, Zikalala opined that the province of KwaZulu-Natal has set a target of attracting 3.4 million international visitors by 2030 and the new route will give an impetus to their prospects of reaching this target.

In addition, the airline will increase its daily winter Cape Town schedule to provide double-daily summer flights from London Heathrow as well as introducing three weekly flights between Gatwick and the Mother City next month.

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