Corporate high-fliers needed

2012-06-06 09:50

More business travellers are needed to increase the economic viability of flights between Cape Town and London.

“The business traveller is a major contributor to covering flight expenses, which points to a need to work hard on forging stronger business ties in addition to the leisure market,” Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariëtte du Toit-Helmbold said today.

“Airlines must make economic sense. When a flight is cancelled this is the reason. Decreased business travel, as a result of troubled economies, continues to plague key source markets.”

She said more energy would be directed to making Cape Town a competitive and year-round business tourism destination.

Marketing would need to be consolidated between different spheres of government, agencies and the private sector.

SAA announced yesterday that it would scrap its 20-year direct route between Cape Town and London from August 15. Instead, passengers would have to catch a flight from Johannesburg.

It cited declining passenger numbers to the UK and increasing airport taxes in that country as some of the reasons for ending the route.

SAA planned to redeploy some of its planes to its growing Accra, Mumbai and Perth routes, and add Abidjan to the network.

Du Toit-Helmbold said SAA had confirmed it would continue to use Cape Town as a draw card in its marketing promotions and campaigns.

Wesgro, the official marketing, investment and trade promotion agency for the province, said the Cape Town-London route still held strong economic value.

“International airlines identified this and are increasing their capacity during peak season,” Wesgro CEO Nils Flaatten said.

“Many business and leisure travellers from the US are using London as a connecting flight into Cape Town and we are at risk of losing these visitors, as the travelling time has been extended even further.”

He called for an urgent national debate on flights into Cape Town and other regional airports.

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