Travel and tourism between London and Durban has received a shot in the arm with news of a new direct flight between the two cities, unveiled at Tourism Indaba today.
The Comair direct fly will run between London Gatwick and King Shaka International Airport, Durban.
The agreement was signed between Comair and the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government. At present, the only international airline using the airport is Emirates Airline.
Comair already operates 23 daily flights into King Shaka Airport, making it the biggest user of the airport and the largest local private airline.
The agreement follows strong efforts by KwaZulu-Natal government to boost tourism and trade to the region by improving airlift.
KwaZulu-Natal economic development and tourism MEC, Mike Mabuyakhulu, said the partners hoped to announce the first flight within the next 12 months. They also plan to develop new regional flights from Durban to Southern African Development Community countries.
“This deal is a massive tourism and aviation industry coup for KZN… Comair have seen what we are doing here at Dube TradePort; they see now that this is more than just an airport and have bought into our greater vision. We have signed an agreement, which is the basis of a much bigger potential public-private partnership,” he told the Independent South Afria.
“We have secured a long-term strategic partnership with Comair, which we envisage over the next 12 months will see the establishment of a long-haul air route out of Durban’s King Shaka International Airport to London’s Gatwick International Airport.
“There will also be a new route out of Durban to Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, with a view to investigating a number of other regional links to African cities including Harare, Lusaka, Luanda, Dar es Salaam and Maputo,” added Mabuyakhulu.
Comair CEO Gidon Novick said it had not been decided which of the group’s two airline brands would be used for the London route. There was “still a huge amount of work we need to do”, he said.