Airline boosts KZN’S tourism potential with 11% more international passengers

06 November 2019 | Web Article Number: ME201917006

Commerce & Trade
Government & Municipal
Special Economic Zones
Transport, Distribution & Warehousing
Airline boosts KZN’S tourism potential with 11% more international passengers

THE introduction of direct flights between London and Durban by British Airways a year ago is paying dividends for tourism in KwaZulu-Natal.

“The direct BA route to London enhances the province’s already substantial tourism potential and continues to help grow international tourism from a key market,” said Phindile Makwakwa, the Chief Executive of Tourism KwaZulu-Natal and co-chair of Durban Direct.

“The BA air link between Durban and London makes KwaZulu-Natal a veritable gateway into the African continent. This route must be used to grow access to tourism for all and to unlock the tourism potential of Durban, KwaZulu-Natal and Africa.

“The thrice-weekly flight also provides a convenient alternative for the province’s business travelers and holidaymakers wanting to go to the UK and Europe,” she said.

The direct BA flights have catapulted passenger numbers through the King Shaka International Airport (KISA).

Figures for KSIA show that international passenger numbers have grown by 11% for the 2019 period ending September compared to the same period in 2018 continuing the airports status as South Africa’s fastest growing international air gateway.

Domestic passenger numbers have also seen positive 6% growth in 2019. In all the total number of passengers – international and domestic - through the airport has increased by 265 000 compared to 2018.

“These numbers prove that there is an untapped demand for direct air services into and out of Durban. It is notable that the UK ranked number one out of the top five international passenger markets for 2019, no doubt the result of the direct BA flight to London,” said Hamish Erskine Chief Executive of Dube TradePort Special Economic Zone and co-chair of Durban Direct, a multi-member body that promotes direct flights to the city.

In order of ranking, India was in second place, followed by the United States, Mauritius and United Arab Emirates.

“Every time we open up a new direct international route, we open opportunities for trade and ease of access for travelers to KwaZulu-Natal. The cargo volumes at the Dube Cargo Terminal have risen steadily over the past five years with 33% increase in international cargo volumes in 2019. We expect 2019/20 volumes to exceed 18 000 tons (up from 16 000 tons in 2018), driven largely by the arrival of British Airways,” said Erskine.

Since KSIA opened in 2010, in addition to Emirates, the airport has attracted airline connections to Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Qatar and Turkey and increased the number of flights to Mauritius.

The BA service is the only non-stop link between Europe and Durban, using the airline’s newest aircraft – the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner. The introduction of the new route was part of the British Airways rollout of a £4.5 billion five-year customer investment plan focusing on excellence in the premium cabins and more choice and quality for all its customers.

The MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Nomusa Dube-Ncube, said it was gratifying to see the growing local and international demand for the direct flights provided by BA and Emirates, which launched in October 10 years ago, and Qatar Airways and Turkish Airlines will celebrate five years of operation in December 2019.

Since the first Emirates flight between Durban and Dubai on 1 October 2009, the airline has carried over two million passengers and thousands of tons of cargo on the route.

“We hope that the success of these airlines on their direct routes will encourage other international airlines to fly direct to Durban and we will continue to position KwaZulu-Natal as a destination for tourists and business,” said Dube-Ncube.

Durban-based businesswoman Katie Friedman, from urban regeneration specialist Urban Lime said: “I was privileged to be part of the team which in 2018 secured this very important route to London. The ease with which we can now operate and move between cities has enhanced our business efficiency and increased visits from our UK-based friends and family. My only request now is for more frequency as the flights are always full.”

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