Durban is back in business despite the floods, lockdowns, and looting of recent years, and airline operators are on track to ensure investors and business travellers can reap the benefits of the city's resurgence.
Despite doom and gloom predictions of high inflation and an approaching recession, business owners in Durban remain positive for 2023. More than 50% of businesses expect production levels to increase and a renewed commitment to strengthening the city’s infrastructure is certain to increase tourism, too.
In light of this, airlines are starting to focus more on this historically underserved destination by offering more flights to Durban for 2023.
Lift is first out of the gates
South Africa’s newest airline has been a trailblazer from the outset by starting up in the midst of a global pandemic. Initially the fledgling flight operator offered only flights between Cape Town and Johannesburg, but it increased its portfolio to include Durban after the demise of Comair.
Not only does this increase the availability of flights to this coastal city, but the new Lift Premium seat category is an excellent option for business class travellers.
Lift took off with flights between Durban and Johannesburg in October 2022, adding a Cape Town–Durban route ahead of peak season on November 26.
Currently, passengers can make use of Lift flights from Johannesburg to Durban three times daily, while the Cape Town to Durban route currently runs twice a day.
As Lift continues to expand its fleet, business and leisure travellers can look forward to more frequent flights and more routes, too.
Emirates on board from December
Emirates added extra flights between Durban and Dubai in December 2022 and plans to increase its Cape Town and Johannesburg capacity further in 2023.
Not only will these flights add extra seats for travellers between these business hubs, but they will also add capacity to the airline’s cargo services to help scale up export and import between South Africa and the UAE.
Other operators holding steady
Despite major disruption in the realm of domestic air travel during the last two years, there are still four other operators offering flights to Durban in 2023. These are:
Airlink has withstood every challenge thrown at it to emerge as a major player in South African domestic air travel. The airline offers flights from all the major centres as well as all the most popular nearby destinations. These include flights between Durban and:
- Cape Town
- Port Elizabeth
- Richards Bay
Airlink also offers flights between Harare and Durban, while most other regional flights to Durban travel via Cape Town and Johannesburg.
In most cases, passengers can book flights twice daily between Durban and these destinations, while the direct routes from Port Elizabeth and Johannesburg travel up to six times a day.
Touted as South Africa’s most on-time airline, FlySafair offers flights between Durban and Johannesburg, Cape Town, East London, and Port Elizabeth. FlySafair offers two flights daily between these destinations but increases their offering in the summer months.
CemAir offers direct flights from Cape Town, Bloemfontein and Johannesburg to Durban. You can also fly to these destinations and then onwards to Durban from:
- Plettenberg Bay
- Port Elizabeth
- East London
The Bloemfontein route operates once a day, while the airline offers five flights daily from Johannesburg and Cape Town to Durban.
After facing near collapse in 2020, SAA is back in the air, albeit with a vastly reduced offering. The airline currently offers flights between Durban and:
- Cape Town
SAA has recently increased these flight frequencies to four times per day. As the airline continues with its recovery efforts, it will resume more of its original regional and international routes to major South African destinations.
This new crop of flights to Durban should bode well for the city’s business aspirations as Durban attempts to regroup after a few difficult years.
The increased flights to Durban will make it easier for business travellers to access all that the city has to offer. Whether they are attending a conference at the Durban International Convention Centre, meeting with clients at one of the city's many business parks, or simply conducting business from one of the city's many hotels, the increased flight options will lead to more competition and lower prices on flights to the city.
They also come as a welcome relief to the struggling tourism industry after months of reduced income.
While new flights certainly help reduce prices and increase ticket availability, South Africa’s domestic flight woes are far from over. If you’re planning on travelling to Durban, be sure to book early.
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