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Emirates plans to operate more flights even though demand has not increased

The airline said it opted for more flights to ensure that customers had adequate connection to their destinations. Photo: AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

The airline said it opted for more flights to ensure that customers had adequate connection to their destinations. Photo: AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

Published Aug 26, 2021

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DESPITE not reaching great capacities, the initial response of airline customers was promising, said the Emirates regional manager for South Africa Afzal Parambil.

He said that while the capacity demand had not reached the level to increase the frequency of its flights, the airliner opted for more flights to ensure that customers had adequate connection to their destination.

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“The initial response from customers is promising. Based on all the limitations that we have, we are happy to say that the response has been extremely positive and, based on that positive news, we have decided to increase our capacity starting from the first of September.

“Most likely, the plan is to have double daily flights coming to Joburg and one of them will be connected to Durban. In Cape Town, we are planning to increase our three flights to five. The importance of increasing this frequency is to ensure that connectivity is improved and (it is) not the capacity demand.”

Emirates started flying earlier this month, following the halting of its operations earlier this year. When it resumed operating earlier this month, it said it opted to operate in all South Africa’s three major cities, to give confidence to their customers with flights to Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town.

Parambil said cargo operations were the airliner's backbone during the suspended-flight period, playing a role in rebuilding the market.

He said the outbound and inbound cargo to UAE and Europe saw an increase. “With the help of cargo, we are confident that we will rebuild the market.”

Emirates said it was also working with South African Tourism as people the world over were looking for new destinations. Their partnership sought to promote South Africa as a preferred destination.

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In a move to support the ramp up of operations after boosting its passenger services to South Africa, Emirates recently signed an interline agreement with CemAir, opening connections to six more destinations in South Africa through the airline’s gateways of Johannesburg and Cape Town. The partnership also includes a couple of leisure points exclusively served by CemAir.

This marked the first partnership between both airlines, and Emirates’ fourth airline partnership in South Africa. The arrangement between Emirates and CemAir includes the convenience of single-ticket itineraries with onward booking and baggage transfers from Johannesburg and Cape Town to Bloemfontein, Kimberley, Margate, Durban, Hoedspruit, Plettenberg Bay, George and Sishen.

Emirates and Airlink have also recently announced the expansion of their partnership into a unilateral codeshare agreement, giving travellers to and from South Africa convenient access to more than 40 domestic and regional destinations across 12 African countries.

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The extended codeshare provides connectivity to Emirates customers not offered by any other carrier in Africa, and augments the long-standing partnership that Emirates has with South African Airways.

The move came as Emirates resumes its flights to South Africa and ramps up its operations to provide customers with enhanced connectivity via its gateways Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban. The connectivity provided by the new codeshare between Emirates and Airlink would offer competitive fares, combined ticketing, and seamless baggage transfers when connecting between both airlines, it said.

Customers travelling to South Africa could transfer from Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban to domestic points like Bloemfontein, George, Upington, Nelspruit, Hoedspruit, Kimberley, Skukuza, Pietermaritzburg, Richards Bay, Sishen, Mthatha and Port Elizabeth, as well as points across Southern Africa like Gaborone, Kasane, Vilanculos, Lubumbashi, Dar es Salaam, Entebbe, Maseru, Antananarivo, Pemba, Tete, Maun, Victoria Falls, Walvis Bay, Maputo, Windhoek, Harare, Lusaka, Ndola, Bulawayo and Livingstone, among many other cities.

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Meanwhile, Comair aircraft would also resume operations from September 1 as planned.

The airline, which operates kulula.com and British Airways (operated by Comair), temporarily suspended services on Monday, July 5, in response to the implementation of an adjusted level 4 lockdown, the prohibition of all non-essential travel in and out of Gauteng and low demand for air travel.

It said it was preparing its aircraft, flight and cabin crews and airport personnel to ensure a seamless restart of services. During the suspension its revenue management team had been working on some new, flexible fare options to better meet customers’ differing requirements called the Travel Your Way, a three bundled affordable kulula.com fare offerings allowing customers to pay only for what they need.

Comair marketing executive Brian Kitchin said temporarily suspending flights was the right decision while Covid-19 cases peaked and the vaccination programme gained momentum.

“It wasn’t an easy call to make because of the impact on our customers and employees, but we’ve used the time well, innovating a new fare offering, preparing for the restart and looking to reopen more routes such as Mauritius. Flying is what we do and we’re eager to take off again and provide South African travellers with compelling products and competitive fares,”

British Airways (operated by Comair) would re-launch its Johannesburg/Mauritius route operating two flights a week from November 30. It plans to add a third flight in future.

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