British Airways to launch new long-haul flights from Heathrow to Durban

South Africa’s beach city is more accessible than ever

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Tuesday 08 May 2018 19:52
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Simon Calder: New air routes announced to Edinburgh and Durban

British Airways is adding another long-haul destination to its network, with a new route to South Africa’s beach city, Durban.

BA will launch a three-times-a-week nonstop link from Heathrow at the start of the winter season on 29 October. It will be the only direct flight between Europe and Durban,

The 5,935-mile flight will take just under 12 hours, saving three hours on current connections via Johannesburg or other African gateways such as Addis Ababa or Nairobi.

Many travellers between the UK and Durban use routes via Istanbul, Dubai and Doha.

The new link makes access easier to the eastern province of KwaZulu-Natal, which extends along the Indian Ocean coast to the southern frontiers of Swaziland and Mozambique.

The province is very popular for domestic tourism, especially from the Johannesburg and Pretoria region.

It also attracts European tourists keen on discovering more about the independent Zulu kingdom.

The Rough Guide to South Africa says: “KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa’s most African province, has everything the continent is known for — beaches, wildlife, mountains and accessible ethnic culture.

BA says economy fares will start at £599, though it appears the flights are not yet open for booking and The Independent has not been able to verify prices.

The airline’s holiday operation is offering return flights and five nights at the five-star Oyster Box beachside hotel for £1,199 per person. The price is based on two travelling together in November, when the average high is 25C.

As elsewhere in South Africa, though, the Foreign Office warns of “a very high level of crime”, and adds: “Be particularly vigilant in Durban’s city centre and beach front area.”

Talks about the route between British Airways and the KwaZulu-Natal government took place in February.

Imperial Airways flew a flying boat to Durban from Southampton, beginning in 1937 and ending shortly after the Second World War.

BA previously operated to Durban via Johannesburg from 1981 until 1999. The airline hopes the efficient Boeing 787 “Dreamliner” will make it viable.

The southbound departure will be overnight, with a daytime flight northbound. The timings are designed to appeal to travellers from Germany, France and Scandinavia who prefer not to connect at Johannesburg.

Alex Cruz, BA’s chairman and CEO, said: “It is a gateway to many nature reserves, parks and historic sites, and has a thriving food, drink and art scene.

“Durban is also home to the busiest port in South Africa and is a large manufacturing hub. The new route will secure another important link between the UK and the region that will be a welcome addition for business travellers.”

The airline’s network to southern Africa has shrunk over the years, with links to Harare, Lusaka, Lilongwe and Gaborone disappearing from the schedules.

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