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Warm welcome as Turkish Airlines flies to Durban

Date: 2022-06-28 13:00:57

Warm welcome as Turkish Airlines flies to Durban

The Turkish Airline flight that landed at King Shaka International Airport received a warm Durban welcome recently. This comes as the airline has extended two of its Istanbul-Johannesburg flights to include Durban on Thursdays and Saturdays.

According to a statement by Dube Tradeport, there are plans to increase these to four weekly flights later this year depending on passenger uptake. 

Airport Company South Africa Regional General Manager Nkosinathi Myataza said: “Turkish Airline flights will add much-needed traffic between Europe and South Africa. This will help in propelling the recovery of both air freight and passenger traveller, a key driver of South Africa’s tourism sector, an economic multiplier for the country.”

Turkish Airlines has a route network connecting 128 countries and 329 cities from its hub in Istanbul. 

Currently, Emirates flies five flights a week from Durban directly to Dubai and Qatar Airways flies four direct flights a week, with plans to increase this to five later this month. And now Turkish Airlines brings additional capacity with the reintroduction of flights into Durban.

Regarded as the second-fastest recovering international airport in the country, King Shaka International Airport has achieved 71.9 percent of its pre-COVID-19 passenger throughput in the year to date.  

MEC of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs Ravi Pillay said the reintroduction of these flights reopens business and tourism opportunities between Istanbul and Durban. 

“It underpins the resilience of KwaZulu-Natal, its people and leadership to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the implications of the recent destructive flooding had on the tourism industry.”

MEC Pillay said this achievement, along with the recent direct Airlink flight to Harare, Zimbabwe, is indicative of the untapped capacity within the province for air services, as well as the behind-the-scenes work being undertaken by government and its agencies to bring air connectivity into KwaZulu-Natal. 

EThekwini Mayor Councillor Mxolisi Kaunda said the collaboration with tourism trade partners and other government entities has enabled the City to achieve great milestones during the difficult time of COVID-19.

“Turkish Airlines has stated that Durban remains a strategic market for the airline and country. Prior to COVID-19, Istanbul ranked number seven as a top international destination for Durban, with as much as 88 percent of outbound domestic passengers originating in Durban. These flights to Durban will make it easier for local passengers to visit Istanbul and will allow travellers from our source markets in Europe to fly into Durban,” he added.

Turkish Airline’s Johannesburg-Durban-Istanbul return route will boost cargo airlift capacity, said Hamish Erskine, Chief Executive Officer of Dube TradePort Special Economic Zone and Durban Direct Co-Chairperson.

“With the gradual reintroduction of international, regional, and domestic air services, the Dube Cargo Terminal has seen a growth of 23 percent in cargo volumes over the past 12 months. This is a direct result of the increased capacity available in passenger flights serving King Shaka International Airport.”

 Phindile Makwakwa, Co-Chairperson of Durban Direct and Acting CEO of Tourism KwaZulu-Natal, said: “The return of Turkish Airlines is very important for tourism as Istanbul offers our destination fantastic connectivity to our tourism source markets in Europe. Air services continue to play a critical role in ensuring ease of travel for tourists, thereby growing KwaZulu-Natal’s tourism sector, which in turn grows the tourism economy and increases job opportunities within the tourism value chain"

Locally, a resilient domestic market has been critical to the recovery of air travel in South Africa with King Shaka International Airport passenger numbers breaching the 72 percent mark year to date. Overall, domestic travel now contributes more than 74 percent of the Airport Company South Africa’s airport network traffic.