Routes committee to assist in bringing direct flights to KZN
May 07, 2019
KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa: THE special provincial Routes Development Committee, dedicated to bringing in direct flights to King Shaka International Airport, this week launched the Durban Direct strategy and logo, targeting KwaZulu-Natal as a global tourism attraction.
“Direct access and unfettered connectivity is the cornerstone of aviation and all related business opportunities.
“At the back of our minds is the strategic opening of KZN to the global tourism market that will invariably improve the economy, attract further investment and thus cement South Africa and the region’s position on the global tourism economy,”
“Results do not happen by themselves. They are derived through conscious, consistent and deliberate set of actions,” Sihle Zikalala, the MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs said in a speech delivered on his behalf by Ravi Pillay, the MEC for Public Works at the Tourism KZN during Africa’s Travel Indaba in the city this week.
“It is not by accident therefore that bookings to Durban have increased by an incredible 176% since September last year,” he said.
Established by the KZN Provincial government, the Route Development Committee-a non-statutory body-comprises Tourism KZN, Dube Trade Port, the Airports Company South Africa, Trade & Investment KZN, Durban Tourism, Invest Durban and the Ilembe Development Agency.
The issue to access to the region was central to all business sectors as well as tourism, guests were told.
At the heart of it all was the Route Development Committee which painstakingly researched, consulted, compiled and presented data-driven business cases to airlines and route planners across the globe “with the sole intention to articulate the potential market and business that exists within the city of Durban gateway and the province of KwaZulu-Natal”, guests heard.
Delegates were reminded about last year’s announcement that BA was introducing direct flights between London’s Heathrow and the multi-award-winning King Shaka International Airport.
This new route, introduced at the end of October, followed in the footsteps of other international and regional airlines flying directly to Durban.
Thuli Galelekile, Co-Chair of the Route Development Committee, and General Manager of Marketing, Tourism KZN, said: “Air connectivity to KZN has increased since then and this contributes to the promotion of international air services to King Shaka International Airport.”
The direct flight between London and Durban and already yielded very encouraging data with the majority of package bookings including car hire that stood at 85%.
This was another encouraging sign as the aim was to get the international visitors to explore beyond Durban.
In November alone, there were a total of 4 272 passengers using the two-way route with the total load factor being 77%.
Galelekile said: “December saw a total of 4 689 passengers coming and going when the load factor stood at 83%. By February, the number of passengers had reached 4 653, with the total load factor being 91% and the arrivals load factor being an impressive 95%.
“Since the airport opened nine years ago, the results had been telling with international arrivals going from 87 466 to 170 341 which is a direct result of new airlines flying direct to the airport and significant interest from tourists.”
Monthly figures remained strong too, she said, citing December’s figures of 273 527 departures and 279 622 arrivals.
And in another vote of confidence, Emirates, which has been flying to Durban for 10 years, will be adding four extra flights a week from June 14 to August 4 because of growing demand during this period.
For the size of King Shaka International Airport, it is an unprecedented boost in arrivals. This augers well for the future growth of the airport and the success of the Durban Direct strategy as we hope to secure more direct flights to Durban.
Tourism contributes more than 30% of KZN’s Gross Domestic Product and is one of the major job creators in the province, eThekwini Municipality deputy mayor Fawzia Peer, speaking on behalf of Mayor Zandele Gumede, said.
The city of Durban had invested more than R7.6-billion towards capital infrastructure developments and tourism-related programmes aimed at promoting destinations and attractions, she said.
“Currently, 3.8-million tourists visit Durban, generating over R19.7 billion GDP contribution and supporting 41 000 jobs,” guests were told.
Durban was rapidly changing as a tourist destination and the city today was much-improved with world-class and iconic key projects, like the Moses Mabida Stadium, uShaka Marine World and upgrades to the beachfront promenade. The extension to the promenade was due to finished in September, she said.