Local stakeholders in KwaZulu-Natal region believe the introduction of flights by Qatar Airways into Durban’s King Shaka International Airport before the end of the year will play an important role in its strategy to build sustainable air connectivity and ensure the province becomes a key regional aviation hub.
Gulf carrier Qatar Airways confirmed in February this year that it would introduce flights to this year’s World Routes host city as part of an expansion of its network in South Africa. The four times weekly service, as an extension of an expanded schedule between Doha and Johannesburg, will be launched from December 17, 2015, just three months after the global networking event, providing an important new hub connection offering to the coastal city.
The addition of the four new flights on the Doha – Johannesburg – Durban route from December 17, 2015 will increase Qatar Airways’ offering on the Doha – Johannesburg sector from ten weekly to double daily, while from October 1, 2015 it will operate daily flights between Doha and Cape Town ahead of the busy 2015/16 winter travel season, an increase from five weekly flights this winter.
“At Qatar Airways we strive to provide our passengers with the best of service levels on the ground and on board our modern fleet. We also provide our passengers with a strong global network of business and leisure destinations, and the city of Durban will be a welcome new addition to our extensive route map,” said His Excellency Akbar Al Baker, chief executive officer, Qatar Airways Group.
It will be the first new destination to be added to the Qatar Airways network in South Africa in over ten years, with flights to Johannesburg and Cape Town both starting in January 2005. All three routes will be operated using Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner equipment configured with 254 seats in a two-class arrangement.
Speaking at World Routes, Michael Mabuyakhulu, MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs of KwaZaulu-Natal said: “We are pleased that World Routes Durban 2015 has featured good news for our province, the city, the country and, indeed, the region as one of the fastest-growing brands in the aviation business.”
“The news that Qatar Airways will be introducing a new flight service between Doha and King Shaka International Airport is in line with our ambitious plans of developing an aviation inspired conurbation, the Durban aerotropolis, as a catalyst towards the stimulation of growth to unleash considerable business and employment opportunities for our people,” he added.
The new service will offer a complementary long-haul hub connection offer to those already offered by Emirates Airline via Dubai and South African Airways via Johannesburg. “The international profile of Qatar Airways speaks for itself and will, therefore, create an avenue for our city and province to connect to more than 151 destinations in all six continents which guarantees an upsurge in the tourist, business and general passenger numbers to grace King Shaka International Airport,” noted Mabuyakhulu.
Durban is the second most important manufacturing hub in South Africa after Johannesburg with the presence of a number of major multi-national companies and is also famous for being the busiest port in the African continent. It is also seen as one of the main centres of tourism because of the city's warm subtropical climate and extensive beaches and is an exciting holiday destination thanks to its luxury resorts and adventure sports opportunities.
The province of KwaZulu-Natal, together with the Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA) has invested heavily in the establishment of King Shaka International Airport and the surrounding state-of-the-art Dube TradePort that lies at the heart of Durban’s aerotropolis. This development has created a unique opportunity to increase international air arrivals, as it is a gateway unique to the African continent.