After Kwazulu-Natal's aviation sector suffered years of stunted growth due to the old Durban International Airport's infrastructural limitations, it seems its hefty investment is finally paying off: the recent introduction of a Boeing 777-300ER by Emirates on its Dubai - Durban route and South African Express set to make it its hub for expanding into Africa, business is certainly booming at Durban's new King Shaka International Airport (KSIA).
KSIA is now moving to lure bigger carriers from further abroad, and in particular, is looking at a future London service using British Airways. Why British Airways and not South African Airways - the logical choice after all? Well, after last week's dramatic axing of the age old Cape Town - London Heathrow service (which is now routed va Johannesburg) due to viability problems, it seems unlikely that SAA would venture into a future Heathrow - Durbs route.
Said Mr. Ahmed Bassa, Dube TradePort’s aeronautical executive, at a business breakfast organised by the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry recently:
"“London is our biggest market, with approximately 100 000 passengers that travel between the UK and KZN. Besides a connecting flight via Joburg, an increasing number of these passengers currently fly on Emirates via Dubai to the UK.
Emirates SkyCargo 747 at Durban (GVD)
"We are looking strongly at British Airways to start a route from King Shaka to either London’s Heathrow or Gatwick airports. Virgin Atlantic airlines won’t come into Durban because they are a small airline with just 24 planes that fly on the high-profile routes.” He said that after London, Dubai, with Emirates’ non-stop service, was the next most important market for Durban."
In the 80s, British Airways did serve Durban, albeit with a stopover in Harare, Zimbabwe.
Last year, Comair, British Airways' franchise holder in Southern Africa, too applied to British Airways to see if Comair’s franchise to carry BA passengers in southern Africa could be extended to a proposed route between Durban and London. Nothing came of it, as BA considered Durban to simply be marginal, warranting only feeder-route status.