Emirates applauded for a decade of direct flights to Durban

17 October 2019 

Durban Direct and the KwaZulu-Natal Government congratulated Emirates airlines on its tenth anniversary of direct flights to the King Shaka International Airport (KISA).

Since the first Emirates flight between Durban and Dubai on 1 October 2009, the airline has carried over two million passengers and thousands of tons of cargo on the route.

“We applaud Emirates and celebrate with them their decade of service to Durban. They have been a longstanding solid partner of KISA and Dube TradePort (DTPC). They had confidence in our vision and came in ahead of the opening of King Shaka International, as a direct result of the investment in the airport and cargo facility,” said Hamish Erskine Co-chair of Durban Direct.

Leader of KwaZulu-Natal Government Business and MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Nomusa Dube-Ncube said that Emirates had been a reliable partner. "We will continue to work with the airline to position this province as a destination for tourists and business, and we look forward to another 10 years of increase in the number of visitors to the province.” 

"The past 10 years have been both rewarding and fulfilling; we have seen our Durban route steadily grow in passenger and cargo figures and contribute to our overall success in South Africa,” said Fouad Caunhye, Regional Manager of Emirates Southern Africa.

Year on year, travellers, particularly international travellers, using the King Shaka International Airport have steadily increased. The top destinations for travel into Durban across the Emirates network include the UAE, the United Kingdom, the United States, India and Germany.

“The success of the route was clear when, for the first time in 2019, Emirates increased its daily service to Durban, with four additional flights a week from mid-June to early August, in response to the growing demand for travel during this period,” said Erskine

“Having a direct international flight to a hub destination was welcomed by business and travellers,and Emirates daily flight out of KISA did exceptionally well from the get-go. Good passenger load factors since 2010 have enabled airlines to gradually upgrade the type of aircraft that fly the Durban route, which intern has increased the cargo capacity handled in the plane’s underbelly, thereby providing local exporters with direct flights for the goods,” he said.

Within a month of KISA’s opening, the airline brought in a dedicated Emirates SkyCargo freighter plane - one of the most advanced long-range freighter planes in the world - to the Cargo Terminal, carrying 117 tons of general merchandise because of delays at the harbour. Then, in September 2011, the airline brought another 110 tons of offshore drilling equipment destined for the Durban harbour.

“These flights, although special flights, were a good opportunity to showcase the operational efficiency and convenience that the new airport offered to the air freight industry, as previously consignments of this magnitude were facilitated via OR Tambo airport and trucked to Durban, adding unnecessary time and cost. It also started the ball rolling as other direct cargo flights came on board establishing the cargo facility as a major role player,” said Erskine.

The Emirates celebration also marks the imminent 10th anniversary of King Shaka International Airport, which officially launched on 1 May 2010. In 2010, KISA handled 43,580 passengers in its first quarter and by 2019, these figures were over 90 000 passengers in quarter 1.