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Return of SAA and Qatar Airways to Durban 'will boost KZN economy'

19 January 2022 - 16:49
The KwaZulu-Natal government hopes the resumption of key flight routes will give a much-needed boost to the province's economy. File photo.
The KwaZulu-Natal government hopes the resumption of key flight routes will give a much-needed boost to the province's economy. File photo.
Image: BUSINESS DAY

The KwaZulu-Natal government says the resumption of SAA and Qatar Airways flights to Durban will help with the economic recovery of the province.

This follows SAA’s announcement that its first scheduled flight will take off from OR Tambo International to King Shaka International on March 4, the first time in almost two years since the airline exited the route.

The airline said it would fly the route seven days a week at least three times a day on a return service between the two cities.

SAA’s return to King Shaka International Airport follows close on the heels of the resumption by Qatar Airways of flights out of Durban.

Qatar, the Gulf airline headquartered in Doha, resumed flying from KwaZulu-Natal on January 14 with an initial frequency of four flights a week.

“The resumption of SAA and Qatar flights between Durban and Johannesburg and Durban and Doha respectively will benefit the tourism sector, which remains one of the greatest creators of employment in KwaZulu-Natal,” said premier Sihle Zikalala.

“Through our economic recovery, reconstruction and transformation plan we have stated our commitment to increasing trade, tourism and beneficial collaboration with the rest of the world.

“Efficient and regular aviation services are necessary if we are to increase visits to our province, to grow tourism numbers and to create jobs up and down the value chain.

“We welcome the return of Qatar Airways to Durban after its withdrawal ahead of the festive season over Covid-19 concerns.”

The Durban route is a significant cog in the revival of the aviation industry in SA.
MEC Ravi Pillay

He said direct links to mid-hemisphere hubs like Doha in the Gulf region “bring the world closer by providing easy access to the global capitals of the world”.

“The uptick in tourism numbers which is directly related to aviation links can only mean that KZN is truly on the rise, and that better things will come in 2022.”

Economic development, tourism and environmental affairs MEC Ravi Pillay believes air transport is key to advancing the economic growth of the province.

“This is crucial in growing our economy and domestic capacity on the essential Gauteng/KwaZulu-Natal route. This announcement comes straight after positive tourism numbers were reported for the festive season which were anchored on a high occupancy rate of about 80% during the Christmas week,” said Pillay.

“The past 20 months since SAA terminated the Durban route have been particularly difficult. However, as government we never stopped engaging SAA, even as the airline was repackaging its business model.

“This is a fresh start and a timely boost to our economic recovery efforts. It strengthens our argument that the Durban route is a significant cog in the revival of the aviation industry in SA.”

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