Durban - The first direct, non-stop flight, between London's Heathrow Airport and King Shaka International, took place on Tuesday morning to much fanfare where the first passengers were greeted on the tarmac by the Mayor of Durban and the MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs.
The new British Airways Dreamliner 787-7 took off from London at 6.45pm - currently two hours behind South Africa - and landed at King Shaka International at 5.35am.
The MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Sihle Zikalala, accompanied by the Mayor of eThekwini Councillor Zandile Gumede welcomed the first passengers which included British journalists.
Zikalala said the KwaZulu-Natal government expected major economic and tourism spin-offs.
“This direct route comes at a time when we are working hard to grow the tourism impact on the province’s GDP to between R65 billion and R98 billion over the next two years. We believe this would guarantee the realisation of our target of creating 183 000 direct jobs over the same period," he has said.
KZN has set itself the ambitious target of attracting no less than 3.4 million international visitors by 2030.
"We are optimistic about this prospect especially when considering that Britain has become our intimate market. This direct flight willl therefore further cement existing relations and, more importantly, make travel more effortless for both leisure and business travellers alike," Zikalala said.