19 June 2007
Dubai-based Emirates Airline has added four new flights to its existing Johannesburg service, bringing its South African presence to 18 weekly flights.
“There is a strong and growing demand for convenient air travel connections between South Africa and cities in the Middle East,” Emirates senior vice-president for commercial operations in Africa Nasser bin Kherbash said in a statement last month.
According to the airline, the extra flights will add over 1 700 seats and more than 66 tonnes of cargo capacity per direction per week, benefiting business people in both the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and South Africa, both of which are “primary trading and distribution hubs for their respective regions”.
Tourism and trade
The airline is counting on its increased service to boost tourism and trade between the two countries.
According to Emirates regional manager for southern Africa Orhan Abbas, South Africa is a top holiday destination for UAE leisure travellers, offering “beautiful scenery, spectacular wildlife parks with big game opportunities, top-of-the-line holiday resorts … and very good shopping – attributes that appeal to UAE-based travellers.”
Over 81 000 South Africans visited the UAE in 2006. There are also reciprocal skills enhancement programmes between the two countries, with graduates travelling between SA and the UAE to gain hands-on work experience.
According to the airline, South African exports to the UAE – comprising gold, metals, steel, minerals and foodstuff – has been growing annually at 40%, reaching almost R4-billion in 2006.
The UAE’s exports to South Africa, comprising machinery, transportation equipment, electronics and home appliances, have been grown at nearly 50% per year.