JOHANNESBURG  - The Eastern Cape department of transport will from Monday be receiving SA Express direct flights from Johannesburg at Mthatha Airport.

This historic event will see Flight SA1421 depart Johannesburg at 14h00 and arrive in Mthatha at 15h30 on Monday afternoon, with the return leg back to OR Tambo International Airport departing Mthatha at 16h00.

Sonwabo Mbananga, spokesperson for Eastern Cape government, said that this was in line with Premier Phumulo Masualle's pronouncement during this year’s Mthatha Airshow in which he called for the aviation sector to take advantage of the untapped growth potential of the province, both from a travel and tourism perspective, as this industry value chain can play a big role in the economic growth of this less-developed part of the province.

"Premier Masualle called for the route between Mthatha connecting not only to the two other bigger airports in the province, namely East London and Port Elizabeth, but for the exploration of the potentially viable direct flights from Mthatha to OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, Cape Town and King Shaka International Airport in Durban," Mbananga said in a statement.

"The Eastern Cape provincial government has spent over R700 million towards renovating the airport over the last five years, expanding the runway in order to receive larger aircrafts and, building and installing state-of-the-art  facilities and equipment."

- African News Agency (ANA)