Cape Town - British Airways will increase its services from London to Cape Town by three flights a week from May 2014, offering 657 additional seats a week, expanding total capacity to over 12 000 seats next winter. The airline currently operates double-daily services to Cape Town between October and March, the busy Cape summer season, reverting to a daily service during the southern hemisphere winter, when demand typically declines. Now it will expand the winter schedule, introducing three Boeing 777-200ERs a week each able to accommodate 219 customers in four cabins. The additional double overnight flights will leave London on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays and Cape Town on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Announcing the new services, Gavin Halliday, British Airways’ general manager for Africa and Europe, said that since 2002 when it began campaigning for more summer frequencies to meet inbound tourism demand, the airline recognised the need to provide a year-round service to the Mother City. “Operating year-round builds confidence in the route, not only amongst inbound tourists and business travellers, but also local customers wanting to visit London or travel onwards to the rest of our network. “The fact that we are now able to bolster our winter schedule is testimony to this and the tremendous job which has been done to market Cape Town as a year-round destination as well as a business hub.” He said that the new services are a significant investment for the airline and should contribute to regional economic growth. “A 30% frequency increase is substantial and we will need to make a concerted effort to sell the additional seats. This means marketing Cape Town around our international network. As well offering more flights we’re also investing in our products and services to encourage Capetonians to choose us for their business trips and holidays to London and beyond.” The airline is building a new lounge in Cape Town, modelled on its Galleries lounges at Terminal 5, which will be open by the end of the year. It has completed the rollout a new £100 million First cabin. Inflight catering has been improved in every cabin and a new in-flight entertainment system is being fitted to its new World Traveller and World Traveller Plus cabins. This gives customers 50% more choice of movies and doubles the range of television and radio options. Western Cape Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Alan Winde, said: “The Western Cape remains a popular destination for visitors from the United Kingdom; last year we welcomed 181 886 travellers from the UK. In addition, 17 000 readers of the Telegraph, which is one of the UK’s most popular newspapers, voted Cape Town as their favourite worldwide city and South Africa as their third favourite country. “While we have a reputation as South Africa’s leading leisure destination, we are also seeing a rise in business tourism. Ahead of the World Design Capital next year, the spotlight is on the Western Cape’s creative sector and we expect scores of visitors to view the design showcase. The British Airways’ capacity increase on this route speaks to strong consumer confidence in our destination and we look forward to welcoming a spike in travellers from the UK.” Wesgro CEO Nils Flaatten welcomed the increased flights, saying that research by the Western Cape’s official tourism, trade and investment promotion agency had indicated that the London-Cape Town route held strong economic value for the Western Cape and neighbouring Eastern Cape. “Business and leisure travellers from the United States are using London as a connecting flight into Cape Town and it is to British Airways’ credit that it has answered the need for a year-round service to the destination. Wesgro and British Airways will continue to explore marketing options that will ensure that the demand for this new airlift capacity remains.” The Cape Town frequency announcement follows confirmation that British Airways will start operating its largest and most modern aircraft, the A380, to Johannesburg from mid-February next year. “The British Airways story in South Africa dates back over 80 years, when we first pioneered air routes the length of the continent. When we introduced the first ever commercial jet service it was to South Africa. We’ve endured through a World War and more recently the global financial crisis. Now, as we take delivery of a fleet of new aircraft and continue to invest in new products and services in the air and on the ground, we’re starting the next chapter,” said Halliday.