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Cape Town - British Airways, the only airline to serve Cape Town directly from London all year around, said on Friday that it was operating its busiest schedule ever to South Africa this summer season, offering up to 33 flights a week over peak periods.

As is usual during the southern summer, the airline is doubling its daily winter Boeing 747-400 services to Cape Town to accommodate all those in the northern hemisphere in need for some sunshine and smiling faces. This year it is also adding three Boeing 777-ER flights from Gatwick to Cape Town. The first of these flights landed at Cape Town International on Friday.

Over the periods of especially high demand, from January 1-9 and February 3-27, British Airways will offer two more Boeing 747-400 services from Heathrow. During these periods there will be 19 flights a week between the UK and Cape Town.

Sue Petrie, British Airways commercial manager for Southern Africa, said the extra flights meant the airline would be offering more than 6 000 seats a week on the route “over the peak of peaks”.

“The Cape Town route has grown consistently over the past few years and now even doubling the winter capacity isn’t enough to match demand,” she said.

The statement added that British Airways had been promoting the Gatwick-Cape Town service in the UK using a social media campaign featuring fun, pop-up displays of African animals appearing at train stations.

Western Cape Minister of Economic Development and Tourism Alan Winde said the extra flights were excellent news for the region’s tourism sector.

“Through the Western Cape’s Project Khulisa economic strategy, we are seeking to add up to a further 100 000 jobs to this sector,” he said.

More good news for Capetonians is that as a route launch promotion British Airways is discounting published fares to Gatwick by up to 50 percent with prices starting from R8 735 (including taxes and surcharges). Booking for the special fares opened on Friday and runs until November Tuesday November 29 for travel until late March.