#FindYourEscape: 25 new flight routes and expansions SA travellers can take advantage of

2017-09-27 08:30 - Kavitha Pillay
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Cape Town - Travel has never been more convenient and efficient with thousands of global flights easily connecting people to family, for work, relaxation or exploration of exotic destinations.

South Africa’s aviation industry proves to be thriving in a tough economic climate, with a myriad of new direct flight routes and flight expansions locally and internationally, connecting travellers with more ease and accessibility than ever before.

Despite South African Airways’ (SAA) recent route cancellations, the country as a whole has made headway in attaining even more new direct routes globally, as well as flight and capacity expansions.

SEE: FlySafair announces flight schedules for new routes along SA's East Coast

These progresses in aviation not only give South Africans the opportunity to explore the world - and our own country - with competitive flight deals from more airlines, but more importantly it boosts international visitors, tourism and the economy.

With the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) latest analysis of demand for passenger air travel proving that African airlines experienced “a 6.5% increase in traffic”, it’s no surprise that flights connecting SA to the world continues to expand.

According to IATA, African airlines experienced an increase in traffic compared to a year ago, down from 9.8% demand growth in June. “Capacity rose 1.7%, and load factor jumped 3.4 percentage points to 74.1%,” adds IATA.

ALSO SEE: #AfriTravel: 5 African long-haul airlines voted best for the business traveller

Airlift, and particularly direct route access, improves tourism which is a key contributor to a country's economy, promising the potential to turn the dire economic situation around for South Africa and the continent as a whole.

While SA and other African countries have shown significant growth in aviation, it still has much room for growth.

Speaking at the THINC Africa conference, South African Tourism CEO Sisa Ntshona highlighted that of 1.2 billion international arrivals in 2016, less than five percent of those came to Africa, and one percent to South Africa. "To a large extent, we’re still undiscovered," Ntshona points out optimistically. 

SEE: More direct flight routes on the cards as Cape Town Air Access and SAT join forces

2017 has already seen no fewer than 20 new routes, flight schedule increase and passenger capacity increases made by airlines servicing the country - here are some of the highlights - New SA flight routes travellers can take advantage of in 2017

Added to this, there are a number of new direct routes and flight expansions coming into effect just in time for the summer holiday, so there’s no reason not to begin planning your December vacation.

Cape Town Air Access

Cape Town International Airport sees the greatest increase in local and international flights, thanks to the Cape Town Air Access project that has been specifically created to broaden air access between the Western Cape and African and international markets “to improve the region’s global economic competitiveness.”

Paul van den Brink, Project Manager at Cape Town Air Access says that the mandate is to focus on international route development and the domestic market. This includes new routes and more capacity from Cape Town “like the introduction of the Cape Town – Pietermaritzburg route and expansion of the Cape Town – Nelspruit route,” he says.

A City Press report about SAA’s recent route cuts states that the carrier’s Johannesburg-Cape Town route “probably diminished in gainfulness because of the fact that there are now more direct international flights to Cape Town”.

van den Brink confirms with Traveller24 that “According to our data source OAG, international passenger traffic connecting in Johannesburg to Cape Town decreased by 10%,” while “International traffic connecting via Johannesburg to Cape Town travelling on SAA decreased by 5%.”

“However, all domestic traffic between Johannesburg (OR Tambo and Lanseria) and Cape Town went up by 6% in the first 6 months of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016. This is for both OR Tambo and especially Lanseria”, says van den Brink, adding that Lanseria saw an increase of 26%. “This is mainly due to FlySafair entering the market and capturing market share”.

New routes and flight expansions for SA

Cape Town Air Access is a partnership, based at Wesgro, between the Western Cape Government, the City of Cape Town, Airports Company of South Africa, Cape Town Tourism and now also South African Tourism.

Since its launch in 2015, the project has landed ten new routes and 11 route expansions, adding over 650 000 seats and thereby helping Cape Town International Airport (CTIA) reach the 10 million passengers mark for the first time in 2016.

“Improved air access played a role in our increased tourism numbers,” says Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities in the Western Cape, adding that “This year alone, we’ve added over 400 000 new two way international airline seats to make it easier for visitors to reach us, bringing our new seat total to 2.6 m”.


The added capacity has seen the international terminal grow at an unprecedented 27% for the first half of 2017, and the airport is expecting 2 million more international passengers this year compared to 2016.

In 2017 alone, Cape Town Air Access has already secured new routes to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, and Cologne, as well as route expansions to Turkey, France, Namibia and Botswana.

Taking effect from October, South Africans can look forward to more flight expansions with Angola, Switzerland, Germany and Ethiopia, as well as capacity expansions with Air Mauritius from March 2018. According to Cape Town Air Access, the city aims to see “130 000 additional international seats from October 2017.”

SEE: More direct flight routes on the cards as Cape Town Air Access and SAT join forces

Low-cost carrier FlySafair introduced new flights between Durban, East London and Port Elizabeth commencing from November 2017, while this year also saw Airlink seal the deal for much-anticipated flights between SA and St Helena Island.

Easing domestic flights, new flights this year also connected Pietermaritzburg with Cape Town, and an increase in flights between Nelspruit-Cape Town and Pretoria-Cape Town.

See the map/ table below for a full list of all SA’s new flight routes and expansions in 2017 and beyond.

Hover over the destination for flight details.


What to read next on Traveller24:

More direct flight routes on the cards as Cape Town Air Access and SAT join forces

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