London to Durban route enhances city's potential as holiday destination

The success of direct flights from Durban to leading international markets should encourage other international airlines to fly direct to Durban to position KwaZulu-Natal as a destination for tourists and business.

This is the view of Economic Development MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube after the announcement that the introduction of direct flights between London and Durban by British Airways a year ago is paying off for tourism in KZN.

Dube-Ncube said it was gratifying to see the growing local and international demand for the direct flights provided by BA and Emirates, Qatar Airways and Turkish Airlines.

Since the first Emirates flight between Durban and Dubai on October 1, 2009, the airline has carried more than two million passengers and thousands of tons of cargo on the route.

“We hope that the success of these airlines on their direct routes will encourage other international airlines to fly direct to Durban, and we will continue to position KZN as a destination for tourists and business,” said Dube-Ncube.

Chief executive of Tourism KwaZulu-Natal and co-chair of Durban Direct, Phindile Makwakwa, said the direct BA route to London enhanced the province's already substantial tourism potential and continued to help grow international tourism from a key market.

“The BA air link between Durban and London makes KZN a veritable gateway into the African continent.

“The thrice-weekly flight also provides a convenient alternative for the province's business travellers and holidaymakers wanting to go to the UK and Europe,” she said.

The direct BA flights have catapulted passenger numbers through the King Shaka International Airport (KISA).

Figures for KSIA show that international passenger numbers had grown by 11% for the 2019 period ending September compared with the same period in 2018, continuing the airports status as South Africa’s fastest-growing international air gateway.

Domestic passenger numbers have also seen positive 6% growth in 2019. In all the total number of passengers - international and domestic - through the airport has increased by 265 000 compared to 2018.

“These numbers prove that there is an untapped demand for direct air services into and out of Durban. It is notable that the UK ranked number one out of the top five international passenger markets for 2019, no doubt the result of the direct BA flight to London,” said Hamish Erskine chief executive of Dube TradePort Special Economic Zone.

Since KSIA opened in 2010, in addition to Emirates, the airport has attracted airline connections to Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Qatar and Turkey and increased the number of flights to Mauritius.

The BA service is the only non-stop link between Europe and Durban. The introduction of the new route was part of the British Airways rollout of a £4.5 billion (R85.4 billion) five-year customer investment plan focusing on excellence in the premium cabins and more quality for all its customers.