Durban — The national carrier of the Kingdom of eSwatini launched a new route between King Mswati III International Airport in Manzini, eSwatini, and King Shaka International Airport in Durban on Friday.
The route will be operated by an Embraer ERJ 145 aircraft, which will initially be licensed to carry a maximum of 50 passengers. The new route will have three flights per week, with plans in place to increase frequencies to seven times a week from June, based on demand.
Elaborating on the new route, Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs MEC Siboniso Duma said this route not only enhanced tourism potential between the two destinations, but also strengthened trade relations. Duma said eSwatini was one of the key regional tourism markets and shared strong historical and cultural ties with KwaZulu-Natal.
“Pre-pandemic, tourist arrivals from eSwatini averaged 290 000 per annum, and in 2022 tourist arrivals demonstrated a strong recovery of 89%. This presents an exciting opportunity between the two destinations,” Duma added.
It is expected that the new route will facilitate trade between KwaZulu-Natal and eSwatini, further strengthening the already strong economic relations between the two countries. According to the World Bank, over 60% of exports from eSwatini come to South Africa, and over 80% of eSwatini’s imports come from South Africa.
The new route will also provide a significant boost to the regional tourism market, with eSwatini being one of the key regional tourism markets, and having strong historical and cultural ties with the province of KZN.
Deputy chairperson of the Economic Development and Planning Committee in eThekwini, councillor Phili Ndlovu said the eThekwini Municipality looked forward to working closely with Eswatini Air by creating awareness of the new route and providing support to the airline, in an effort to demonstrate the commitment to strengthening relationships with African counterparts.
“We want to show the socioeconomic benefits of making tourism a priority in achieving a development agenda. Attracting more direct airlines to eThekwini remains key in order to boost tourism and trade,” Ndlovu stated.
To celebrate the launch, the government of KZN and eSwatini Air hosted a delegation of 40 eSwatini dignitaries on board the inaugural flight, key media players and select tour operators in order to facilitate both tourism and trade on the new route.
ACSA regional manager at King Shaka International Airport Nkosinathi Myataza said the inaugural flight reinforced the importance of the aviation industry and how it remained a key mode of transport, generating significant benefits for the economy.
“Connecting friends and relatives of these two countries, especially the KZN region, with a long history of fraternal relations ... it can also not escape us that this is Africa month, where we celebrate our continent,” said Myataza.
WhatsApp your views on this story to 071 485 7995