Dube TradePort works to attract more international flights to Durban

Monday, September 22, 2014

A high level delegation from KwaZulu-Natal, comprising Dube TradePort officials, business and tourism bodies, are headed to the 20th World Route Development Forum Chicago to lobby new airlines to start flying direct international routes into Durban’s King Shaka International Airport.

World Routes is the largest commercial aviation networking forum for the world’s aviation route development industry, bringing together airline route planners, airports and tourism authority stakeholders to discuss new and existing air services.

“The convenience gained by direct air connectivity brings increased travel and trade efficiencies that enhance productivity and spur high quality job opportunities and economic growth. As government entities tasked with developing new air services in KwaZulu-Natal, we’re working with our partners, providing airlines with the latest insight that inform commercial decisions about route capacity and pricing, freeing airlines to provide more affordable, convenient, and efficient air service for consumers and investors alike.

The business cases that we will be presenting give airlines guidance as to the potential market that exists within KwaZulu-Natal. Presenting to new airlines which aircrafts would be most effective, the load factors they can expect per flight and what frequency schedule will be most suited for the route. Currently 4.3 million passengers utilise King Shaka International Airport annually. Most of this is indirect traffic, so there is huge potential for airlines to scoop up this untapped market.” Says Saxen van Coller, CEO of Dube TradePort Corporation, which is one of the organisations tasked with driving new air services into the province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

“With the eyes of the world firmly focused on the African continent as the next growth frontier, we need to ensure that we up the ante by ensuring that we are adequately capacitated to lure potential investors to our continent.

A good start would be by ensuring that our air travel meets the demands of the discerning investor. Therefore, the introduction of more direct air links between the international community, and the port city of Durban would be a significant step in this a move to foster even closer relationships between the world and KwaZulu-Natal's business and tourism communities.

The ease of access that such direct air links between our respective regions provides will better enable the international community and KwaZulu-Natal to derive the clear and present benefits and, especially, the economies of scale associated with being able to trade, conduct business, promote leisure activities and activate tourism development opportunities.” Noted Mr Michael Mabuyakhulu, MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environment Affairs KwaZulu-Natal.

To-date, the market share of African airlines offering international flights amongst African countries and the rest of the world hardly exceeds 2%. This presents a unique opportunity for international carriers to establish new routes into African countries with rapidly growing economies. Carriers such as Emirates and Turkish Airlines are seizing these opportunities; Turkish Airlines has become the largest international carrier in Africa, flying into 39 destinations.

Although there is more competition, the reality on the ground is that the pie is getting bigger as secondary gateways, such as King Shaka International Airport, gain momentum. As the airports catchment areas increase Durban is rolling out the red carpet for international carriers to fly direct, ushering in a host of economic opportunities and an increase in international as well as intra-African tourism.