Durban’s air transport gateway, King Shaka International Airport will secure new international connectivity as a result of hosting World Routes, was the promise from KwaZulu-Natal MEC for economic development, tourism and environmental affairs, Michael Mabuyakhulu during the forum’s opening press conference.
In fact Mabuyakhulu revealed that an announcement will be made before the event closes on Tuesday on at least one new international airline arrival into Durban as tentative arrangements on new routes are formalised over the course of meetings during World Routes.
Although well-linked to international markets via its regular domestic schedules to Johannesburg, Durban’s international connectivity remains limited to flights by Air Mauritius (Mauritius), Airlink (Maputo), South African Express (Harare and Lusaka) and of course its sole long-haul link from Emirates Airline to Dubai International.
In recent months a number of international airlines have outlined plans to expand into the Durban market, although local officials remain tight-lipped on this subject until final contracts are agreed and formally signed.
“Several airlines have expressed interest in operating direct flights to King Shaka International Airport as they have acknowledged KwaZulu-Natal’s potential growth and influence in the region’s economy,” said Mabuyakhulu. “This occasion will serve as a platform to announce certain airlines that have made firm commitments to fly to King Shaka International and we will show fruits of hosting before delegates leave our shores."
With numerous meetings taking place during the following three day formal event programme and informal networking opportunities, Mabuyakhulu expects World Routes to deliver more opportunities for Durban.
“Amongst the benefits to emanate from this giant global event would be to expose reputable world class airlines to the province’s state of the art King Shaka International Airport with an expectation to attract more direct flights to the City of Durban which is essential for the promotion of tourism and investment in the region,” he said.
“A large portion of the international passengers that pass through King Shaka International Airport each day do so via indirect flights hence we are working hard to change the situation by encouraging more airlines to consider flying directly to Durban,” he added.
Alongside the anticipated international connectivity, new domestic routes into Durban will be introduced in the coming months with Mango introducing a link to Lanseria from October 15, 2015 and FlySafair adding flights to Cape Town and Johannesburg from October 25, 2015. A new international link to Lusaka from Proflight Zambia will also launch on the final day of the event – September 22, 2015.