The return of direct South African Airways (SAA) flights between Durban and Johannesburg is anticipated be a major boost to the KwaZulu-Natal tourism economy.
SAA suspended commercial flights to Durban in March 2020 due to financial problems in the state-owned entity.
On Friday morning, flight SAA 531 touched down at the King Shaka International Airport to mark the resumption of a three-times daily return service from Johannesburg to Durban.
Ravi Pillay, MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (Edtea), said this represented a positive recovery in KZN’s economy following the triple whammy of the economic recession, the Covid-19 pandemic and the July 2021 civil unrest.
“Tourism contributes 10 percent to the KZN economy. The availability of airlines is critical to that function,” he said.
Pillay said they are waiting on the opening of SAA direct flights to Cape Town to complete the last point of the economic ‘golden triangle’.
The triangle between the country’s three biggest cities, enables the flow of trade and commerce and movement of tourists throughout the country, said Pillay.
“With the pandemic phase of Covid-19 appearing to be ending, we can again expect to see volumes of tourists coming through the arrivals hall at King Shaka International Airport,” said Pillay.
Thomas Kgokolo, SAA Interim CEO, said the Johannesburg-Durban route was one of the busiest in South Africa and the national carrier had been guided by data in finding the right time to make the decision.