Ramaphosa: We want direct SAA flight route to India back

2019-01-26 14:44
President Cyril Ramaphosa (Photo by Gallo Images / Sowetan / Veli Nhlapo)

President Cyril Ramaphosa (Photo by Gallo Images / Sowetan / Veli Nhlapo)

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President Cyril Ramaphosa says his government is ready to work at re-establishing a direct flight between South Africa and India.

He made this commitment during a round-table discussion with business leaders from both South Africa and India on Saturday.

"Yes, you would like this rigmarole of when travelling, going to Dubai, Europe, [or] London as you come to South Africa to come to an end - we also bemoan that," said Ramaphosa, responding to concerns raised by an Indian businessman over the cumbersome process of travelling to and from South Africa.

Gupta links

In 2015, the Gupta family influenced SAA into relinquishing its route to India to Indian airline Jet Airways.

The controversial family has been placed at the heart of allegations of state capture, where they are accused of using their undue influence over former president Jacob Zuma to loot from South African taxpayers.

The president, without mentioning the Gupta family, said he didn't know why the route was ever cancelled.

"The flight to Mumbai was consistently under attack to be taken from SAA, but we will bring it back... we will bring it back because we know now why it was being done," said Ramaphosa.

He said the state-owned airline had been going through really difficult times.

"But we would like nothing better than to see SAA having a direct flight to India once again," said Ramaphosa.

'Huge tourism opportunities'

Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan, who was part of Ramaphosa's delegation, said there was a need to have an overall look at SAA's operations.

"There was a direct route [and] it was stolen from South Africa," said Gordhan, explaining to journalists that the India route was lost owing to the state capture project.

"We've got to look at that in the overall context of SAA; when we get back home, we will evaluate that clearly," said Gordhan.

"There is a lot of push to have it reinstated, we will try our best to do so, there are huge tourism opportunities," added Gordhan.

Ramapahosa said his government had already discussed the issue with Indian Prime Minister Rendara Modi.

"It's the potential of person-to-person exchanges which precisely is why need to open pathways for people to travel with greater ease between India and South Africa," said Ramaphosa.

Read more on:    saa  |  pravin gordhan  |  cyril ramaphosa  |  gupta family
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