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Durban is the second new African route to be added in 2018. BA launched a twice-weekly service to Seychelles from Heathrow in March. It has expanded its Mauritius line-up from three flights per week to five.
BA has then upgraded its in-flight product on flights to Accra, adding new bedding and amenity kits in Club World on a number of African routes. Lounges are being revamped around the world, including Johannesburg.
The product improvements are part of an ongoing £4.5billion investment programme that includes installing Wi-Fi in every seat, upgrading the interiors of 128 long-haul aircraft and taking delivery of 72 new aircraft.
BA has positioned one of its latest Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner aircraft on the new route to Durban.
Paolo de Renzis, Commercial Manager for Europe, Corporate Sales and Africa, Levant at British Airways & Iberia, commented: “Since we announced the new [Durban route]… there has been a great deal of excitement… Travel trade, business interests, government and the public all appreciate the benefits of the move.”
As of late October, BA’s schedule includes 18 flights each week between Johannesburg and Heathrow, with a double-daily service to Cape Town for the South African summer and three weekly flights from Gatwick. De Renzis said Durban was a “wonderful destination” that would benefit from its own direct service.
Durban authorities have welcomed the development, which they regard as a significant milestone in an ongoing campaign to attract visitors and investors from the UK and other European markets.
Sihle Zikalala, South African Minister for the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, added: “Having direct flights between Durban and London will undoubtedly spur growth in both tourism and trade for both destinations… We welcome travellers from the UK and invite them to explore and enjoy everything that Durban and the rest of the province of KwaZulu-Natal has to offer.”
Durban Tourism markets Durban as a “modern, vibrant cosmopolitan city” under the tagline ‘the warmest place to be’. The department’s strategic focus is to grow the market to “the national destination of choice, but also that of the global market”.
Popular attractions in the coastal city include the uShaka Marine World theme park and aquarium, the Moses Mabhida Stadium, Botanical Gardens and South Coast Road.
The Durban launch event was marked in lighthearted and lively fashion with a flashmob at the airport, celebrating iconic characters from Britain and KwaZulu-Natal.
And, in case you haven’t already seen it, the “Boards and Boeing” video, it shows a visit by two Boeing 787 Dreamliner pilots to Durban, where they had a surfing lesson with two talented young surfers from Surfers Not Street Children. The youngsters then flew to the UK to fly the Boeing 787 Dreamliner simulator.