Today, the Province of KwaZulu-Natal welcomed the inaugural flight of Air Seychelles to Durban’s King Shaka International Airport.
Air Seychelles will be flying a twice-weekly non-stop service on Thursdays and Saturdays, connecting Durban and the Seychelles’ capital Mahé, using an Airbus A320 Aircraft with a 16-seat business class and 120-seat economy configuration, which will achieve an average flight time of 5 hours, 20 minutes.
Mr Sihle Zikalala, KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs said KwaZulu-Natal, with its thriving tourism sector, placed great importance in opening its borders to foreign visitors. “These include a combination of general tourists and potential investors who contribute significantly to the region’s economic growth. This new airline route will therefore further help in facilitating that movement of leisure and business travelers between KwaZulu-Natal and the Seychelles.”
Zikalala added that the new route into the Seychelles would boost the supply various consumer goods, machinery parts and implements, which the island currently imports. “With available cargo capacity on the Airbus A320 aircraft being flown by Air Seychelles, freighting goods using this flight will contribute towards KwaZulu-Natal produced goods being more competitive within the Seychelles. Given that there are already South African retailers with operation on the island nation, suppliers who have been flying their goods out of Johannesburg, now have a direct route, and far more convenient logistics option, which speaks directly to the potential of this route,” said the MEC.
Durban’s King Shaka International Airport has seen an increase in the number of regional and international airlines, which have introduced new air services into the airport; since late 2015 Durban has attracted six new airlines, which together provide onward connections to over 700 destinations around the globe.
Mr Hamish Erskine, CEO, Dube TradePort Corporation noted, “The KwaZulu-Natal Route Development Committee has been working tirelessly behind-the-scenes to secure the introduction of new regional and international air services to Durban’s King Shaka International Airport. Strategically presenting data-driven business cases to airlines, we aim to show route planners, from around the world, the potential market that exists within Durban and the rest of KwaZulu-Natal. We are always motivated when a new airline takes up our offer and commences a new route into Durban; we had been in talks with Air Seychelles for the last 12 months for them to put on this new non-stop route.
‘Air Seychelles will provide onward connectivity to key destinations across Europe, the Far East, India and the Middle East, through the hub in Abu Dhabi. Air Seychelles’ connection to Mumbai will provide a convenient travel option for KwaZulu-Natal and other neighbouring provinces.”
Alan Renaud, General Manager for Aeropolitical, Alliances and Public Affairs said, “We are delighted to begin serving the vibrant city of Durban with twice-weekly flights from Seychelles. Our route network now boasts air connections to one of the most popular cities on South Africa’s coast, known for its Golden Mile beach and fantastic surfing, and we are confident it will attract strong leisure traffic and business traffic from across our network.”
The new route will strengthen socio-economic cooperation between Durban and Seychelles and will contribute towards inter-regional development by becoming another commercial launch pad for KwaZulu-Natal into the rest of the world.