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OPINION: Direct international air access opens up KZN globally


By: Phindile Makwakwa

DURBAN – Direct  international air access to KwaZulu-Natal is opening up the destination to the rest of the world, is a catalyst for greater investment and economic growth, and is in turn cementing the province’s position on the global tourism economy.

A host of regional and big name international airlines now fly direct to Durban and the province’s Route Development Committee, which comprises Dube Trade Port, Tourism KZN, the Airports Company South Africa (Acsa), Trade & Investment KZN, Durban Tourism and other public and private sector partners have their sights set on even more non-stop routes to the city.

Adding to the success of the region’s air connectivity development is King Shaka International Airport (KSIA), where as a result of the increased connectivity, passenger numbers are on the increase, and has become the a gateway to the province.

The award-winning airport has also just picked up even more accolades, with the airport’s latest success being its win at the 2019 Skytrax Awards for being the Best Regional Airport in Africa and for having the Best Airport Staff in Africa serving 5 to10 million passengers. The airport is no stranger to receiving Skytrax awards, which are independent, impartial and global, with passengers deciding which airport they consider to be the best.

On top of that, KSIA has also been chosen by passengers as one of the winners in the 2018 Airports Council International (ACI) Airport Service Quality (ASQ) Awards. It was named among other award-winning global airports in the ASQ Departures Survey in the “Best Airport by Size and Region: 5 to 15 million passengers in Africa category.”

KSIA further outperformed the other eight ACSA airports in 2018 and with almost 6 million passengers passing through the airport last year, figures are expected to continue growing. This is as a result of the airport expanding its international routes and its continued work with global stakeholders.

Further good news is that KZN overland arrivals are also set to rise as a result of the completion of the new Maputo-Katembe bridge, reducing the travel time from Maputo, Mozambique, to the Kosi Bay border post in KZN from six hours to 90 minutes.

In a game-changing air connectivity development at the end of October, British Airways introduced direct flights from London’s Heathrow Airport to KSIA and the long-anticipated three-weekly flights have been extremely popular, boosting the number of international passengers flying into KSIA.

By February this year the number of passengers had reached 4 653, with the total load factor being 91% and the arrivals load factor being an impressive 95%.

In another positive development that will see even more passengers travelling in and out of KSIA, Emirates which has been flying to Durban for 10 years, has just announced a seasonal increase to its existing daily service to the city.

The popular airline is adding four additional flights a week (Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday), from June 14 to August 4, the result of growing demand during this period.

KZN is continuing its aggressive campaign to increase its air connectivity to the world to help unlock the province’s economic growth potential, as it enables KZN to attract business investment, human capital and tourism, all vital to KZN’s economic prosperity. 

KZN’s global air activity is being boosted by major infrastructure development projects that are both underway and in the pipeline and are destined to change the face of the entire province. 

It is anticipated by 2022, that there will be no fewer than R60 billion worth of tourism investments. There is no doubt that our enhanced global connectivity, combined with the diversification of our tourism offerings, is definitely propelling us towards greater economic growth. 

Phindile Makwakwa is the acting chief executive for Tourism KwaZulu-Natal.

BUSINESS REPORT 

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