By Andy Sambidge
First Boeing 777 operates to South African city, raising passenger capacity by 30%
King Shaka International Airport in Durban will clear its runways on Friday for the arrival of Emirates’ inaugural Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.
The new 354-seat aircraft introduces Emirates’ renowned First Class cabin on the Durban route and boosts passenger capacity by close to 30 percent, confirming Emirates’ continuing growth in South Africa.
Emirates, which previously operated the smaller capacity Airbus A330-200 aircraft on the Durban route, currently serves 22 passenger and cargo destinations across the African continent after the addition of Zambia and Zimbabwe in February this year.
Fouad Caunhye, Emirates’ regional manager, Southern Africa, said: “Durban is one of South Africa’s most popular tourist destinations and the introduction of the new Boeing 777 is a direct response to increasing passenger demand on this route.
“Emirates carried over 165,000 passengers on flights to and from Durban in 2011. With the new Boeing 777 service we expect this to grow by nearly a third as our customers continue to explore the opportunities Emirates’ global network has to offer.”
Emirates said that in addition to the boost to tourism in the region, the introduction of the new service also confirms Durban’s increasing influence as one of the key trading hubs in South Africa.
In 2011, Emirates SkyCargo – the freight arm of the airline - carried over 5,240 tonnes of cargo on the route led by high-value South African exports, which included automobile and machinery parts, engineering tools, clothing consumer goods, as well as electronics.
“The introduction of the Boeing 777 will provide a 90 percent increase in cargo capacity on the Durban route,” said Kum Naicker, cargo manager at Emirates SkyCargo.
“The port of Durban is already the busiest in Africa and one of the largest in the world. This, coupled with the increase in cargo capacity resulting from the new Boeing 777 service and the continuing growth of the Dube TradePort, will truly confirm Durban’s position as Africa's global trade gateway.”For all the latest transport news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.