Caption: MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Mike Mabuyakhulu makes the announcement yesterday at the World Routes Conference that Turkish Airways will fly from Durban to Istanbul four times a week. PIcture: Colleen Dardagan
Caption: MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Mike Mabuyakhulu makes the announcement yesterday at the World Routes Conference that Turkish Airways will fly from Durban to Istanbul four times a week. PIcture: Colleen Dardagan

Turkish flight delight for Durban

By Colleen Dardagan Time of article published Sep 22, 2015

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Durban - From November this year, Turkish Airlines will officially be dropping in at King Shaka Airport.

Mike Mabuyakhulu, the MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, could scarcely contain his excitement on Monday when he announced that Turkish Airlines would fly to Istanbul from Durban.

For the first six months the airline will fly, via Johannesburg, four times a week.

Zamo Gwala, the chief executive of Trade and Investment KwaZulu-Natal, who has headed negotiations with the airlines since 2010, said until sufficient demand had been demonstrated the flights would stop over in Johannesburg.

“After six months, once they have established the amount of cargo and the number of passengers, they will most probably fly direct,” he said.

Muhammed Mehdi Tunc, the general manager for Turkish Airlines in Johannesburg, said this was one of several flight launches into Africa this year. “The airline’s Africa network already includes 43 destinations and its direct flight launch to Cape Town starts next month.”

Tunc said passengers would enjoy authentic Turkish meals finished off with fresh orange juice and Turkish delight.

Mabuyakhulu said another airline was expected to make a similar announcement at the summit on Tuesday.

It is an open secret among the 2 500 delegates that British Airways, Ethiopian Airlines and Air India are possible candidates. These airlines flew into Durban before sanctions were instituted against apartheid South Africa. Also, if Ethiopian Airlines were to re-establish its route from Durban that would open up east Africa, a popular destination for tourists from KwaZulu-Natal.

Gwala said cargo and business-class passengers were fundamental to the profitability of the flights.

“Cargo is critically important. We are confident though that there is enough. Much of our trade is to the Middle East. These are desert countries. There are huge opportunities for agriculture to export there.”

He said the announcement of Durban as the host of the 2022 Commonwealth Games had given impetus to the talks.

He also stressed that Turkish Airlines flew to a number of destinations in Russia which offered potential for “aggressive” trade into that region.

Nomvuso Shabalala, eThekwini deputy mayor, said plans were advanced for the establishment of a “holiday office” to develop tourist packages. She said a marketing campaign with National Geographic had afforded the city a global social media audience of 100 million.

* On Sunday, Mabuyakhulu announced, at the World Routes Summit in progress in Durban, that Qatar Airways would fly from Durban to Doha, via Johannesburg, from December 17. Four Qatar flights would leave each week.

The Mercury

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