Direct flights between Durban and London Heathrow coming soon
Tourism into KwaZulu-Natal is set to receive a boost with the announcement on Tuesday that British Airways will begin flying three times weekly direct from London Heathrow’s Terminal 5 to Durban.
The flights will start from October 29. The service will be the only non-stop link between Europe and Durban‚ BA said‚ and will be operated by the airline’s newest aircraft‚ the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner.
The aircraft will arrive at King Shaka International in the morning and land back at Heathrow in the evening.
Return fares from Durban will start from R11‚679.
The introduction of the flights mean that residents of KwaZulu-Natal will no longer have to travel from Durban to Johannesburg to catch a flight to the UK‚ and potentially offers a direct route into the province for travellers from Europe.
Approximately 10‚000 passengers currently fly indirectly between Durban and London via Johannesburg. The joint announcement was made in Durban on Tuesday morning by the KZN MEC for Economic Development‚ Tourism and Environmental Affairs‚ Sihle Zikalala‚ and British Airways at a breakfast ahead of Africa’s Tourism Indaba.
“As of tomorrow‚ the public can book their flight between London and Durban on the 214-passenger aircraft. The investment and trade opportunities presented by this direct flight between Durban and London will undoubtedly add huge value to our economy‚” Zikalala said.
He added that the introduction of the BA flight augured well for KwaZulu-Natal’s Route Development Strategy which aims to provide a mechanism for attracting and supporting new and direct air services routes for King Shaka International Airport.
“This new route adds to our growing number of international flights‚ amongst which can be counted flights connecting us to key world’s destinations such as the Gulf region‚ the Middle East‚ the Indian Subcontinent‚ North Asia‚ Australia as well as Beijing‚ Shanghai‚ Tokyo and Seoul through the hub in Abu Dhabi‚” Zikalala said.
British Airway chairman and CEO‚ Alex Cruz‚ expressed confidence that the flight would lead to an improvement in the province’s tourism fortunes.
“It is a gateway to many nature reserves‚ parks and historic sites‚ and has a thriving food‚ drink and arts scene; defining the city as a must-visit for culture and adventure‚” Cruz said.
Sue Petrie‚ BA's commercial manager in Southern Africa‚ said the direct flights 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.
Over the last seven years‚ the SA government said‚ King Shaka International Airport has been able to build its passengers volumes to the point where it now facilitates the movement of some 5.5 million passengers per annum. British Airways also flies twice-daily service from Heathrow to Johannesburg and daily to Cape Town year-round. It doubles the Cape Town schedule during the South African summer season and also adds three weekly flights from Gatwick.