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The KwaZulu-Natal government hopes the resumption of key flight routes will give a much-needed boost to the province's economy. Picture: BUSINESS DAY
The KwaZulu-Natal government hopes the resumption of key flight routes will give a much-needed boost to the province's economy. Picture: BUSINESS DAY

The KwaZulu-Natal government says the resumption of SAA and Qatar Airways flights to and from Durban are a timely boost for the province’s economic recovery.

SAA said its first scheduled flight from OR Tambo International Airport to King Shaka International in almost two years is set for March 4.

The national airline will offer three daily return flights each week. Doha-based Qatar Airways resumed operations to and from KwaZulu-Natal on January 14 with an initial frequency of four flights a week.

“The resumption of SAA and Qatar flights between Durban and Johannesburg and Durban and Doha, respectively, will benefit the tourism sector which remains one of the greatest creators of employment in KwaZulu-Natal,” said premier Sihle Zikalala.

“Through our economic recovery, reconstruction and transformation plan we have stated our commitment to increasing trade, tourism and beneficial collaboration with the rest of the world,” Zikalala added.

“Efficient and regular aviation services are necessary if we are to increase visits to our province, to grow tourism numbers and to create jobs up and down the value chain.

“We welcome the return of Qatar Airways to Durban after its withdrawal ahead of the festive season over Covid-19 concerns.”

The Durban route is a significant cog in the revival of the aviation industry in SA.
MEC Ravi Pillay

Zikalala direct links to hubs such as Doha “bring the world closer by providing easy access to the global capitals of the world”.

“The uptick in tourism numbers which is directly related to aviation links can only mean that KZN is truly on the rise, and that better things will come in 2022.”

Economic development, tourism and environmental affairs MEC Ravi Pillay said air transport is key to advancing the economic growth of the province.

“This is crucial in growing our economy and domestic capacity on the essential Gauteng/KwaZulu-Natal route. This announcement comes straight after positive tourism numbers were reported for the festive season, which were anchored on a high occupancy rate of about 80% during the Christmas week,” said Pillay.

“The past 20 months since SAA terminated the Durban route have been particularly difficult. However, as government we never stopped engaging SAA, even as the airline was repackaging its business model,” he said.

“This is a fresh start and a timely boost to our economic recovery efforts. It strengthens our argument that the Durban route is a significant cog in the revival of the aviation industry in SA.”

TimesLIVE

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