South Africa-UK trade to get a boost with British Airways' Durban-London service

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May 09, 2018: KwaZulu-Natal’s trade is set to get a boost with new direct, non-stop flight between London’s Heathrow Airport and Durban’s King Shaka International Airport introduced by British Airways.

British Airways announced the introduction of the route to a global audience (May 8, 2018), while at the same time  the MEC of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Sihle Zikalala, announced the long awaited decision to delegates attending Africa’s Travel INDABA in Durban. 

The airline will fly three times weekly direct from London Heathrow’s Terminal 5 to Durban’s King Shaka International Airport, starting on October 29, 2018.

King Shaka International Airport is located in a precinct which is experiencing rapid growth due to the business opportunities created through Dube TradePort Special Economic Zone. 

Dube TradePort is the only facility in Africa combining an international airport, dedicated cargo terminal, warehousing, offices, retail, hotels and agriculture.

Hamish Erskine, CEO for Dube TradePort, said the Durban – London air service was in line with the global trend where airlines were increasingly flying directly into major secondary cities from global economic hubs. “This presents an enormous opportunity for both destinations to grow business, trade, investment, cultural and tourism links. Currently, there are some 90 000 passengers flying between London and Durban every year, King Shaka International also saw passenger volumes reach 5.6 million for the first time in the last financial year, ” Erskine said.

South African exports to the UK make up 4.5 percent of the country’s total exports. The US and the United Kingdom are the thirds and fourth largest air cargo trade routes in and out of KZN.

“We foresee a healthy demand on the UK route, as it stands airfreight volumes between Durban and London are in excess 1500 tonnes per annum, this is expected to increase substantially with additional volumes into the US markets connecting via British Airways London hub,” Erskine said.

Alex Cruz, British Airways’ chairman and CEO, said, “It is a gateway to many nature reserves, parks and historic sites, and has a thriving food, drink and art scene; defining the city as a must-visit for culture and adventure.”

From an economic standpoint, this route also augurs well for improved trade relations as the United Kingdom is currently South Africa’s second largest export trade partner in Europe.

Zikalala added that international cargo through Dube Cargo Terminal had experienced continuous year-on-year growth, which amounted to a 138 percent increase in volumes since 2010. 

“The introduction of new passenger flights to Durban saw a growth of a 25 percent in cargo volumes, as well as an increased frequency of chartered aircraft. In the 2017-18 financial year, cargo growth reached 12 percent,” he said.

The announcement was also warmly welcome by eThekwini mayor, Cllr Zandile Gumede, who said it underpinned the council’s strategy to attract visitors and investors from the UK and European market to Durban.

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