KZN tourism MEC negotiating with government as Emirates pulls out of Durban

Media reports suggest flights to other cites might also be cancelled

The first post-lockdown Emirates flight into King Shaka International Airport was expected to land in Durban on Sunday
The first post-lockdown Emirates flight into King Shaka International Airport was expected to land in Durban on Sunday
Image: Chris Preyser

KwaZulu-Natal tourism MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube is engaging with the national government after Emirates airline's decision to cancel all flights in and out of King Shaka International Airport.

According to reports, the cancellation was due to lockdown regulations released last week, which would treat cabin crew like passengers — meaning that Covid-19 testing and quarantining would need to be done.

The first post-lockdown Emirates flight into King Shaka international was expected on Sunday. The cancellation of Emirates flights from Cape Town and Johannesburg is also expected, according to eNCA.

“I wish to confirm that I am currently working with the national government around this matter. And I am confident that this issue will be resolved,” Dube-Ncube said in a statement on Saturday.

Dube-Ncube said that she would be engaging with various stakeholders in the airline industry.

“I wish to reiterate my commitment to continue to work with all the airliners to position this province as a destination for tourists and for those who want to do business,” she said.

On Tuesday, September 29, just ahead of the release of the new government regulations, Dube-Ncube said: “We are excited that on October 4, we will welcome [an] Emirates flight at the King Shaka International Airport. This will undoubtedly help resuscitate the aviation industry and save much-needed jobs.

“It should be remembered that the first Emirates flight between Durban and Dubai was on 1, October 2009. The airline has since carried over two million passengers on the route.  Over the years Emirates has been a reliable partner.

“We will continue to work with the airline to position this province as a destination for tourists and for those who want to do business. We are looking forward to another ten years of increase in the number of visitors to KZN.”

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As international borders reopen, the government has warned game reserves around SA to prepare for a possible resurgence in rhino poaching. Because of this threat, hundreds of rhinos in game reserves in the North West have been dehorned to protect them from poachers.

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