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Next Thursday the inaugural South African Express Airways flight between Durban’s King Shaka International Airport and Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in Lusaka, Zambia, will take to the skies.
The new service marks the start of SA Express and Dube TradePort’s plan to establish Durban as the feeder airline’s Southern Africa route base, with a series of new regional African routes set to be opened up over the next few years.
SA Express is launching the route with four scheduled return flights a week to Lusaka on a 50-seater CRJ200 aircraft on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday. It aims to increase this to six frequencies a week soon thereafter.
“We are very excited to be launching this new route. SA Express has become an active participant in regional economic co-operation and integration in recent years. The objective is to enable Zambia, South Africa and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to grow tourism and trade opportunities,” said SA Express chief executive Inati Ntshanga.
“SA Express will be using its Durban base, which began operations on May 1, as a platform for expansion into the SADC countries and to connect to the established and growing economies. Booking for the inaugural flight between Durban and Lusaka on July 12 has been open since June. Bookings are looking strong for the first few flights and we urge business from both cities to support the route.”
Ntshanga said SA Express had also worked with key stakeholders in the province and city, including the KZN Department of Economic Development and Tourism, Trade and Investment KZN, Tourism KZN and the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry, to help ensure that it provided an effective service.
“We are championing regional integration, which enhances political unity and fosters economic growth and development. Regionalism, especially regional market integration, is a way to help solve the structural problems that the African economies are confronted with,” he said.
“For Zambia and South Africa to make full use of its growth potential, it will be essential to work in a co-operative manner by promoting further regional economic integration and developing broad regional infrastructure.”
Ntshanga said the next phase of expansion would be to apply for route rights from Durban to Harare (Zimbabwe), Gaborone (Botswana), the Malawian cities of Blantyre and Lilongwe and the Mozambican cities of Maputo and Vilankolous.
Meanwhile, ahead of the launch of the new Durban-Lusaka route next week, Tourism KZN is hosting a group of inbound tour operators, airline representatives, media and travel agents from Zambia in the city this week. They are on a four-day familiarisation trip to KZN which has also been timed to coincide with this weekend’s Vodacom Durban July horseracing and fashion spectacle.
“Medical tourism, shopping, golf and events such as the Vodacom Durban July are key attractions for KZN within the Zambian market. The horseracing event is one of the must-visit annual events in KZN and therefore Tourism KZN has identified the event as an opportunity to showcase the province the delegation from Zambia,” Tourism KZN said.
“Africa has been identified as a key source market with great potential for growing arrivals into KwaZulu-Natal. Arrivals from the continent currently contribute 65 percent of tourism arrivals into South Africa annually. The forthcoming operation of the new SA Express route that will directly connect Lusaka and Durban has further validated that Africa is a key source market for KZN.”