29 July 2009
Emirates airline is to introduce flights between Dubai International Airport and Durban International Airport from 1 October, becoming the only carrier to fly international routes out of South Africa’s east coast city on a daily basis.
A 278-seater Airbus A330-200 will be deployed on the route, with a flight time of around 8 hours and 45 minutes.
The United Arab Emirates-based airline hosted a media gathering in Durban this week as part of a roadshow marking the launch of the route.
Emirates senior vice-president for commercial operations in America and Africa Nigel Page said that as the third most populous city in South Africa, Durban and its surrounding areas would benefit from the opportunities the new service would bring.
“These are exciting times for KwaZulu-Natal province, and we are proud to be part of it, especially in these challenging economic circumstances,” Page said in a statement.
“Our new daily flight will enhance Durban’s position as a trading hub, given the city’s existing status as the busiest port in Africa.”
The move is also good news for the province’s tourism industry. Official figures indicate that at least 20% of all tourists heading to South Africa visit KwaZulu-Natal.
Tourism KwaZulu-Natal CEO Ndabo Khoza said the start of daily international flights took the province closer to its goal of being a leading national and international tourism destination.
“No longer does this province have to depend on neighbouring international gateways,” Khoza said. “We will have our own gateway to the world.”
The value of trade between South Africa and the United Arab Emirates is around 5-billion dirhams (about R10.6-billion), according to figures from the Dubai Export Development Corporation.
Exports from the UAE to South Africa reached AED 2.3-billion, the 2007 figures show, while exports from South Africa to the UAE reached almost AED 2.7-billion in the same period.
“Emirates SkyCargo will support this trade, offering up to 13 tonnes of cargo capacity on each flight,” Emirates airlines said.
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