British Airways First Direct Flight From London Arrives In Durban


King Shaka International Airport welcomed flight BA41 on Tuesday 30 October.

The British Airways Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner was the first of three direct flights a week between Durban and London’s Heathrow airport, in what’s seen as a major boost for business and leisure travel for KwaZulu-Natal.

The Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner has an advanced design. Its composite fuselage has larger windows and allows for higher pressurisation and more moisture in the cabin air, all of which contribute to customer well-being.

Paolo de Renzis, Commercial Manager for Europe, Corporate Sales and Africa, Levant at British Airways & Iberia, said, “Since we announced this new route in May, there’s been a great deal of excitement about
it. The travel trade, business interests, government and the public all appreciate the benefits of the move.”

“While Britain and KwaZulu-Natal differ in many ways, they also share many characteristics: rich history, diverse, multicultural character, myriad attractions and good infrastructure. It’s why we’re proud to offer British Airways’ hospitality and service on this route. It should help grow international tourism to KwaZulu-Natal and provide a more convenient alternative for the province’s business travellers and holidaymakers wanting to get to the UK and Europe.”

Phindile Makwakwa, the acting chief executive of Tourism KZN, said that the United Kingdom was one of the region’s best tourism markets.“We have had a healthy increase every year but what was missing was direct access and we know that if there is direct access, there will be robust interest from tour operators,” she said.

Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs MEC Sihle Zikalala said, “Having direct flights between Durban and London will undoubtedly spur growth in both tourism and trade for both destinations. We are certain that South Africans will embrace the opportunities offered by the direct flights from Durban ensuring that we fully benefit from these new connections.

The MEC said the province had set itself a target of attracting 3.4 million international visitors by 2030 and the new route gave “great impetus to our prospects of reaching this target”.

“We are inspired that this new development comes at the time when we are working hard to grow our tourism as we intend to clock anything between R65-billion and R98-billion over the next two years.”

“The Durban-London route will play a role in us achieving this target which is expected to contribute to some 183 000 direct jobs for our people.”

The decision by BA to introduce direct, non-stop direct flights between London and Durban was a game-changer, he said. EThekwini Municipality Mayor, Cllr Zandile Gumede, said, “We firmly believe that this flight will truly transform the Durban skyline and landscape for tourism and investment. This brings a realisation of our visitor strategy which focuses on attracting visitors and investors from the UK and European markets to our city. This speaks to the city’s commitment in ensuring that Durban remains the gateway to Africa, a world-class destination and a hidden gem that will soon be revealed to the world.”

British Airways is offering a launch special from Durban with discounts of to 13% on return fares. World Traveller launch fares start from R7 740, World Traveller Plus from R15 740 and Club World from R33 740 (dependent on exchange rates).

The inaugural flight took place at a time when the KZN government was implementing the aerotropolis initiative, which aimed to develop a 21st century city around King Shaka International Airport.

The aerotropolis would offer businesses speedy connectivity to suppliers, customers and enterprise partners nationally and worldwide.

The provincial government was working with provincial and national stakeholders to position the airport as an alternative air and cargo hub for South Africa. It was envisaged that the Durban Aerotropolis would become a catalyst for rapid urbanisation, employment creation and would spur economic growth-and the
BA flight was expected to bolster the Durban Aerotropolis strategy through new opportunities in tourism and investment.