Durban direct to UK?
Positive talks with British Airways could soon see savings on flight time and ticket costs
THE time it takes to travel between Durban and the United Kingdom could soon be shortened if an agreement is reached between the Department of Economic Development, Tourism And Environmental Affairs (EDTEA) and international flight carrier British Airways (BA).
This follows a meeting between EDTEA MEC Sihle Zikalala and a highpowered delegation led by BA’s director of network planning and alliances Sean Doyle, where the possibility of direct flights between Durban and London was raised.
The route could see more than 100 000 passengers, who presently fly between Durban and London via Johannesburg or other hubs such as Dubai, saving on travel time and cost.
Zikalala said apart from the drastic reduction in travel time and costs, there was also the economic impact to be taken into account as South African exports to the UK make up 4.5% of the country’s total exports.
“From an economic standpoint, this route also augurs well for improved trade relations as the UK is South Africa’s second largest export trade partner in Europe,” he said.
Highlighting one of KZN’s selling points at the meeting, Zikalala said international cargo through Dube Cargo Terminal had experienced continuous year-on-year growth since 2010.
“The introduction of new passenger flights to Durban saw a growth of 25% in cargo volumes, as well as an increased frequency of chartered aircraft. In the 2017-18 financial year we expect a 12% growth in cargo,” Zikalala said.
Zikalala said he was optimistic that the elusive objective of a UK-to-Durban direct flight will finally become a reality following the positive meeting.
“We had a very productive meeting with BA. They see huge potential in the Durban-London route and we are extremely optimistic that our engagement will bear fruit.
“For a number of years now, KZN has been working on securing air services between Durban and the UK and we are happy that BA has finally given us the opportunity to engage them on the viability and potential of the route,” Zikalala said.
Speaking at the meeting, Doyle said BA was evaluating its routes throughout the world, adding that the Durban route was one of the routes they viewed as having huge potential.
Following this engagement, BA will engage in its own internal evaluation and due diligence processes including the briefing of the BA board of the potential of the intended route.
It will, however, have to take in account that other international airlines such as Air Seychelles and Turkish Air were forced to suspend their direct Durban operations due to a lack of traffic.
THE LONG HAUL: British Airways may soon make Durban one of its direct routes.