An alternative option to slow and frustrating journeys by car would be an air service operating between the private terminal at Cape Town International Airport and Saldanha says Geoff Jacobs, President of the Cape Chamber. File Photo: IOL

CAPE TOWN – The Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Thursday announced that it had launched Chamber Air, a facilitation service for air travel bookings for unscheduled short-haul routes in an effort to speed up economic growth. 

The first destination to benefit will be Saldanha Bay on the Cape west coast. 

Incorporating the Chamber network, charter services and the integrated support of all stakeholders, for the first time, short-haul flights of this nature have become economically viable with this unique model, the Chamber said.

“This might seem an unlikely initiative for a Chamber of Commerce, but it makes a lot of sense. Saldanha and its Industrial Development Zone, for example, will be of great importance to business in the city and we need to build new and efficient links between these two port destinations,” said Geoff Jacobs, President of the Chamber.

He pointed out that commercial and freight traffic are expected to grow substantially in the next 10 years and the existing single lane road system would not be able to cope. That would mean slow and frustrating journeys by car. 

“An alternative option would be an air service operating between the private terminal at Cape Town International Airport and Saldanha. Not to mention the many benefits that air access brings, such as the speed of delivery and investment in infrastructure, as well as additional options for freight companies,” he said.

Cape Chamber launches Chamber Air for short-haul flights to speed up economy. FILE IMAGE/ANA

The executive director of the chamber, Sid Peimer, said the idea of arranging the air link came from the simple question: How can we meet the challenge of stimulating the economy in general by leveraging what already exists? The outcome was Chamber Air.

“There is little doubt that short-haul flights will be a growth industry. Cities are growing and there is a need to fly over the urban sprawl and get to destinations more conveniently. Aircraft manufacturers are already designing and flying short-range electric planes which will be silent and ideal for this market. We can help to get the air service going with costs in fuel, time and safety, comparable to road travel,” Peimer said.

Peimer reiterated that this was not an airline, but a facilitation service that leverages existing resources to unlock value for all its stakeholders. The benefits will accrue not only to the organisations involved but also to the local communities that will now have access to a vibrant economy that was denied before.

Although a regional service in nature, the entire country’s economy benefits as more destinations open up. Areas outside major metros can offer many advantages. These would include special development zones or advantages for production close to natural resources. Chamber Air makes air travel viable to these routes, unlocking their value to the economy, thereby increasing overall gross domestic product (GDP).

African News Agency (ANA)