The MEC and delegates waiting at King Shaka International Airport to receive the first Qatar Airways flight back into KZN post the national lockdown. Picture: Tourism KZN
The MEC and delegates waiting at King Shaka International Airport to receive the first Qatar Airways flight back into KZN post the national lockdown. Picture: Tourism KZN

LETTER: We welcome international airlines back - essential for economy

Time of article published Oct 6, 2020

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LETTER - I WISH to reiterate our position that as we reconstruct and transform our economy, the aviation sector remains critical. On Sunday, we welcomed Qatar Airways - the first international flight since the lockdown in March.

We express our appreciation to the airline, pilots and cabin crew who made it possible for the passengers to arrive in Durban safely. The arrival of Qatar Airways marks a new chapter in the history of aviation industry in KwaZulu-Natal since the outbreak of Covid-19.

I was impressed by the level of compliance with health protocols aimed at fighting the spread of Covid-19.

We promised we would see you again, and now is the time. We welcomed Qatar Airways into King Shaka International Airport...

Posted by Tourism KwaZulu-Natal on Sunday, October 4, 2020

Importantly, we are encouraged by the speed of the national government in resolving issues that resulted in the cancellation of Emirates Airlines. We are confident that Emirates will fly to Durban in the next few weeks.

It should be remembered that the first Emirates flight between Durban and Dubai was on October 1, 2009. The airline has since carried over two million passengers on the route.

Emirates SkyCargo also remains a key enabler in facilitating global trade and export in South Africa by carrying millions of tons of cargo to and from Durban over the past five years, with the majority being automotive and shipping components and perishables. We want to add more tons of agricultural products to this list of goods exported to other countries through our Dube Trade Port.

I can also indicate that other airlines such as British Airways has indicated that it will be resuming its flights to Durban.

We are also expecting Air Mauritius, Turkish Airlines and other international airlines to land back in KZN.

On September 27, I issued a statement that before the lockdown, King Shaka International Airport had served between 5 and 10 million passengers. This includes domestic and international travellers into the province.

Stats show that around February, air transport and tourism industries in SA supported a total of about 472000 jobs and contributed about R180billion to our Gross Domestic Product each year.

I wish to reiterate my commitment to continue to work with all the airliners to position this province as a destination for tourists and for those who want to do business.

The Mercury

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