SAA has confirmed that selected domestic and international flights have been cancelled and that it is "consolidating" to save money. Airports affected are OR Tambo in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban’s King Shaka. Photographer: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)

Durban - eThekwini Municipality mayor, Mxolisi Kaunda, has added his voice to the call for national carrier, South African Airways to reconsider their decision to suspend operations on the Durban to Johannesburg route. 

Kaunda was speaking following concerns raised by KwaZulu-Natal premier Sihle Zikalala, who has asked for a meeting with SAA regarding the route termination.

EThekwini Municipality Mayor, Mxolisi Kaunda, has noted with disappointment the

Kaunda said the 2019/20 tourism annual figures indicate that Durban visitor attendance increased by 4% domestic and down by 1% international. During the festive season, over a million visitors came to our city of which 250 000 were day visitors and majority of them are from the Gauteng Province. This is a clear indication that the Johannesburg to Durban route is lucrative,” he said.

Kaunda said it was important to note that last year, Durban celebrated a decade of Emirates direct flights to Durban, ferrying over two million passengers and thousands of tons of cargo on the route since the first take off on October 1, 2009.

He further noted that last year saw the introduction of direct flights between London and Durban by British Airway. 

"Therefore, we fully support the Premier’s call for SAA to review its decision as it goes against government commitment to grow economy and create much-needed jobs, he said. 

In a statement released on Thursday, Zikalala, said while SAA's financial difficulties were being taken into consideration, cuts were being made in the wrong places. 

"Durban's King Shaka International Airport has repeatedly been named SA's fast growing airport. The decision to terminate this vital route - without any consultation with the KZN Provincial Government - amounts to economic sabotage of our province by our national carrier. We are working round the clock to put KZN on the regional economic map and we need SAA to be on the same page," said Zikalala.  

Zikalala has requested his colleagues - KZN MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs Nomusa Dube-Ncube and KZN MEC for Finance Ravi Pillay - to facilitate a high-level meeting with the national carrier and those involved in SAA business rescue efforts with a view to get clarity on this move and to argue KZN's case for continued economic development.

Earlier this week SAA announced that it will cease its domestic routes for Durban, East London and Port Elizabeth effective March 1.

The embattled airline went into voluntary business rescue in December. 

The Mercury