DURBAN – The much-anticipated non-stop flight between London and Durban, by British Airways was launched at the King Shaka International Airport on Wednesday.
The flight brings in a new direct air service, which will be operated three times a week with British Airways latest fleet of aircraft, the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner.
Sihle Zikalala, KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, said: "We are here to celebrate the launch of British Airways flight between Durban and London. It is important that we continually remind ourselves of the central role that air services play in stimulating economic development".
About 100 000 passengers travel between Durban and the United Kingdom every year and this new route will tap directly into the demand.
Hamish Erskine the chief executive of Dube TradePort Corporation said: “We see air connectivity is the catalyst to opening up new markets from both a passenger side and the movement of goods, which is critical to growing tourism and economic development in the region."
According to Erskine, there has been a concerted effort to grow air services into Durban from intergovernmental structures including the eThekwini Municipality, Airports Company South Africa and Trade and Investment KwaZulu-Natal amongst others.
Zanele Gumede the Mayor of eThekwini said: "This is an exciting time for the region as a whole, there is a strong positive sentiment from the business sector for the new direct flight between Durban and London."
Neville Matjie, chief executive for Trade & Investment KwaZulu-Natal commented that he is confident that the launch of more direct international flights will inject a lucrative boost for foreign direct investment for the province.“
"Our passionate quest is to continue to attract investments from the United Kingdom into the province and also to encourage our companies to invest in the United Kingdom. We would like to assure the business community that KwaZulu-Natal is a safe haven for businesses to thrive," said Matjie.
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