Improved connectivity bodes well for South Africa's tourism offering, as well as locals who want to explore far-flung destinations at affordable flight prices.
Nothing makes flights more affordable than improved seating capacity, together with fuel-efficient planes. Accessibility counts too, which means if an airline flies directly from your particular city - it removes the need to have an additional connecting stop or added flight cost.
Take a look at some of the improved flight connections, as well as those set to launch in the next couple of months - and start planning your next escape.
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In June this year Mango Airlines began flying from Lanseria Airport, Johannesburg with a new direct route into Zanzibar. The flight schedule allows passengers from Durban and Cape Town to connect and make the trip to the island of Zanzibar on the same day.
As the only carrier to offer a direct flight to the tropical island, it also operates out of OR Tambo. In March 2018, Mango added a Thursday flight to their existing Tuesday and Saturday departures from OR Tambo International Airport.
SEE: Visa-Free Zanzibar: Tshidi learns to pole-pole
New York, US
United Airlines is launching a new non-stop route between the US and Cape Town, from Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, New York.
This new flight will provide passengers with the only nonstop service between the United States and Cape Town from December 2019, shaving four hours off the usual transatlantic journey. It is being seen as a "game-changer"route as North America was one of the largest unserved markets for Cape Town and the Western Cape.
READ: New direct flight between US and Cape Town confirmed
Hong Kong, China
Cathay Pacific has also just confirmed it is bringing back its popular seasonal route between South Africa’s Mother City and the Hong Kong - with non-stop flights between the two global hubs from November 2019 to February 2020 – just in time for the festive period. The seasonal route will operate alongside Cathay Pacific’s existing daily non-stop flights from Johannesburg to Hong Kong.
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Air Seychelles has started flying their brand new A320neo, the first of its model to fly in Africa and the Indian Ocean. The new plane launched in August this year - with manufacturer, Airbus calling it "the world’s most advanced and fuel-efficient single-aisle aircraft".
The new A320neo aircraft also features SeyStream - the airlines new streaming in-flight entertainment platform. Run on AirFi technology on board app-free streaming system removes the need to for screens on seat-backs, allowing passengers to access the entertainment system through their own devices - phone, tablet or laptop.PICS:Air Seychelles launches Africa's first A320neo to OR Tambo on its maiden flight
Sau Paulo, Brazil
If you’re thinking about visiting South America in the near future – then Latin American airline LATAM's launch of the new Airbus 350 on the route between Johannesburg and Brazil is great news for you.
SA has been a key strategic destination since the carrier began operating its own flight connecting the region to the African continent – its first international service outside of South America after the LATAM brand launched in 2015.
With an estimated 160k passengers having made use of the service since the launch in 2016, with three weekly flights, then increased to five flights per week in 2017 – the airline is now doubling its capacity with the launch of the new A350 aircraft on the route connecting two strategic regions that have a lot to offer both tourists and business travellers.
“Due to the change of Aircraft to the Airbus A350 we will have more seats to offer with greater availability, better products for the passengers and competitive fares,” says Guido Blanco, LATAM Commercial Manager UK, Africa and Nordic Countries.
READ: Why LATAM’s launch of the Airbus A350 on its Joburg route is important for SA
Austrian Airlines will expand its Flight Service to Cape Town with three weekly flights from Vienna to Cape Town in this period. From the beginning of December 2019, Austrian Airlines will operate one additional flight from Cape Town to Vienna, increasing the frequency to three weekly connections, which will be offered until mid-March 2020. The route between Cape Town and Vienna will be operated with Austrian Airlines’ biggest aircraft, the Boeing 777-200 that carries over 300 passengers.
The extension of the third weekly flight between Cape Town and Vienna is Austrian Airlines’ response to the increased demand on this route. Passengers will also have more transfer options at Austrian Airlines’ hub, Vienna Airport, with vast connection possibilities especially to Western, Central and Eastern Europe.
READ: Servus! Austrian Airlines direct seasonal flights between Cape Town and Vienna in full swing
The first of Singapore Airlines’ three evening flights between OR Tambo International and Singapore took off in March 2019. It now provides 10 flights a week from Singapore to Johannesburg and Cape Town.
Whether you're on a connecting flight through this small island city-state, or making it your destination of choice, expect to experience one of the most culture-rich places on Earth. One of the sights in the Lion City is actually its airport. Singapore Changi Airport serves as a vital connection as it is one of the largest transportation hubs in Southeast Asia.
South Africans get to enter Singapore without a visa, and Singapore airlines borders. Singapore Airlines have also upped the stop-over value with passengers who are in Singapore for 24+ hours eligible for a Singapore Stopover Holiday including a one-night hotel stay, round-trip airport transfers, complimentary rides on the SIA Hop-on Bus & free admission to 15 attractions. All you have to do is book a “multi-city” trip to access this deal.
Boost for your holiday plans: Quick Guide to Singapore: Visa-free travel for South African
Alitalia has upped connectivity between SA and Europe, re-launching its Johannesburg to Rome route after initially cutting the long-haul service about 17 years ago. The airline is operating a 250-seat Airbus A330-200 configured in Magnifica business class, premium economy and economy class. Click here to search flights
The flight is also key to the European summer season planning, with the point to point connectivity being a night flight – arriving in the morning in both OR Tambo and Rome Fiumicino Airport. Added to that, the Italian Tourism Board is developing niche programmes for SA travellers, encouraging them to explore Italy beyond the main, popular cities such as Rome, Milan and Venice.
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London, United Kingdom
London is a frenetic city, dealing with its own Brexit woes. However, its appeal for South Africans visiting family or friends, even with the murderous pound exchange rate, remains. In 2018 two key airlines Virgin Atlantic and British Airways improved connectivity to the iconic city.
In October 2018, British Airways launched its three weekly flights from Durban to Heathrow, London - also improving its connectivity via OR Tambo in Johannesburg.
Virgin Atlantic in turn added a second daily route via Johannesburg, operating its Boeing 787-9 aircraft and thereby adding an additional 188 000 seats between Johannesburg and London Heathrow.
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