As an influx of international airlines announced this year that they will launch flights to Durban, tourism to the East Coast of South Africa is set to be uplifted ahead of the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Ethiopian Airlines, the flag carrier of Ethiopia and the most recent airline to announce Durban flights, joins Qatar Airways, Turkish Airlines and Proflight (Zambia) in the new line up of airlines who this year confirmed they will commence flights to King Shaka International Airport.
Qatar Airways, Turkish Airlines and Ethiopian supplement Emirates and Air Mauritius – the additional international options already operating scheduled services between Durban and Dubai and Durban and Plaine Magnien, Mauritius. All five of these airlines already serve airports in Cape Town and Johannesburg.
Travelstart South Africa, the travel booking website that allows travellers to compare prices from all airlines and book flights, believes these new carriers will nudge the country’s third largest city into an energised era of tourism, “In Durban we already have the makings of a world class city – the nearby Drakensberg mountains – a World Heritage Site, the cultural tourist sites found in Zululand and the KZN Midlands, the beaches which lie north and south of the city, a first-rate stadium in Moses Mabhida, the ICC for business and the revitalised Golden Mile, to name a few,” said the online travel agency’s Head of Communications Russell Jarvis.
Previously under the radar on the international stage, in 2014 CNN named Durban, “The coolest city in South Africa you’ve never seen”; earlier in the year the news network placed it on its list, “10 of the world’s most underrated cities”.
“Durban and its surrounds have a lot to offer travellers of all types and some superb facilities to boot – it’s about time Durban claimed its share of foreign tourists who visit our shores,” said Jarvis.
More choice for Durbanites
While the new carriers signal a boost to KZN Tourism and the local economy, the flipside of this is that KZN residents will enjoy heightened access to a variety of overseas hubs; of which four are accessed direct.
Praneetha Aniruth, owner of the popular I Love Durban online community said, “We’re very excited about the new airlines that are now flying directly to Durban; in fact many of our fans wanted to book flights as soon as the news was released. This will not only increase tourism to our beautiful city of Durban, but will also make travel much easier and affordable for locals. We hope that this entices more airlines to choose Durban as a direct flight destination and look forward to welcoming more airlines to Durban.”
In 2015 Doha-based Qatar Airways was voted, “World’s Best Airline” by Skytrax – the global airline ranking authority while Turkish Airlines has been awarded Best Airline in Europe at the 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 Skytrax World Airline Awards. Ethiopian Airlines, Africa’s largest and most profitable airline, has become a force to be reckoned with as a global carrier currently serving more than 90 international destinations across 5 continents.
Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive His Excellency Mr Akbar Al Baker, “Qatar and South Africa have had the privilege of a very long and strong relationship, and this year we have celebrated 10 years of successful services to the country. South Africa is an important centre for business and commerce and it is only natural that we would want to expand our presence in this market. Qatar Airways is delighted to be adding Durban to its worldwide network; the city is flourishing, and is increasingly recognised as a global tourism destination. Our decision to serve Durban is based on the growth forecast of Durban’s economy and tourism sector. We have watched Durban move from strength to strength and believe this will continue in the coming years, particularly with the city hosting the 2022 Commonwealth Games. With the launch of Qatar Airways services on 17 December – four times a week on our 787 Dreamliner – we believe Durban will be better served and the addition of our services will provide travellers with excellent connections to multiple destinations around the world. Our new passenger services will fuel additional growth and further facilitate the development of trade and tourism between South Africa, the Middle East, and the rest of the 150 destinations in the Qatar Airways network.”
On infrastructure at King Shaka Airport
Colin Naidoo, Communications & Brand Manager at King Shaka, says the airport is prepared to handle the arrivals new airlines will bring, “King Shaka International Airport is just over 5 years old and our terminal can handle a capacity of 7.5 million passengers annually – currently we accommodate just over 4.5 million passengers. We work very closely with the KZN government, City of Durban, Tourism KZN, Dube Tradeport and other business, tourism and hospitality entities to attract more airlines and flights to the region. The airport is in a precinct that is experiencing rapid growth due to the business opportunities created through the Dube Tradeport which has been declared an IDZ. After a successful World Routes Conference hosted in Durban in September, we are hopeful that more airlines will decide to make Durban and KZN their destination of choice.”
“Our airport infrastructure is equipped to manage the largest passenger aircraft from the B787 Dreamliner to A380 – both aircraft types have utilised the services of King Shaka International Airport before. New airlines will offer passengers more choice and the opportunity to connect to cities and countries around the world. It is indeed exciting times for Durban, KZN and King Shaka International Airport as we make overseas travel accessible to more people.” said Naidoo.