New developments are most noticeable in the capital, Maputo.

Low-cost airline 1time, which last year launched a successful new route from Joburg to the historic port of Mombasa, in Kenya, is planning further expansion into Africa in the next few months.

Chief executive Blacky Komani said it was preparing to launch three new routes, overcoming the protectionism that has kept South African airlines out of so many other countries in the region, by forming partnerships with local airlines.

One country it may soon fly to is Zimbabwe, which is believed to be on the brink of an economic revival, depending on political factors and the outcome of its general election. 1time already flies to Livingstone, on the Zambian side of the Victoria Falls, as well as to Zanzibar.

Komani confirmed that it was also in discussions with the Mozambican authorities and travel trade over a possible return to its route from Joburg to Maputo. It withdrew from this last year because it became unprofitable due to a forced passenger limit to protect the market share of Mozambican national airline LAM. This meant it had to fly with a number of empty seats on its aircraft despite high demand from South African and Mozambican passengers.

Its flights were welcomed by the Mozambican travel trade, which suggested it should also fly to Maputo from Cape Town. The new negotiations are the result of pressure from Mozambican tourism authorities, who are anxious for the route to return.

Unfortunately the new higher airport taxes on flights arriving in this country are also a disincentive for such a short flight, over a distance similar to that between Joburg and Durban.

South African tourism authorities are also keen to encourage more visitors from neighbouring countries, particularly as several have growing middle classes who can afford to fly here and spend money.

Research has shown that an increasing number of African visitors are genuine tourists, here on holiday, rather than those coming briefly to do essential shopping. But those who come only to shop are also supporting our economy, and it was pointed out at a recent press conference that European and Far Eastern countries also count shopping visitors as tourists.

Boeing goes green

Encouraging news for those of us concerned about the effect of pollution on the environment is that a delivery flight of a Boeing Dreamliner to Japanese airline All Nippon was made using only a biofuel, causing less pollution than ordinary jet fuel.

Until then the many experimental flights carried out by airlines working with aircraft manufacturers Boeing, Airbus, and Embraer, have used a combination of biofuel and jet fuel. Miguel dos Santos, Boeing’s regional vice-president for sales, pointed out that this means if biofuels can be made cheaply enough they can replace fossil fuels completely. - Weekend Argus