The new seasonal non-stop flight by Cathay Pacific Airways between Cape Town and Hong Kong will create increased opportunities for business, investment, travel and trade, according to Tim Harris, CEO of Wesgro, the official tourism, trade and investment promotion agency for Cape Town and the Western Cape.
Operated by an Airbus A350-900 aircraft, the new non-stop service marks the airline’s second SA route - the other being a daily flight between Hong Kong and Johannesburg.
"By connecting the Cape directly to China for the first time, we hope to see a marked increase in tourism and investment into our region," said Harris.
According to Harris, the new service will meet customer demand for travel to Cape Town and the Cape Winelands, with especially the Winelands increasingly seen as a food and wine tourism destination. At the same time, he said, the direct route can cater for the Mother City's popular international meetings and conference industry.
According to Ashish Kapur, country manager for SA and the Indian Ocean at Cathay Pacific, the schedule of the seasonal flight was carefully chosen to land early in the morning.
"Hong Kong is the gateway for South Africans into Asia," said Kapur, adding that 120 airlines fly from Hong Kong.
Mark Sutch, Cathay Pacific's regional general manager for South Asia, the Middle East and Africa, said at the launch celebration that business travel to Cape Town is picking up and the new non-stop flight will cater for that market segment as well.
Kapur agrees that Cape Town holds tremendous potential as a fast-growing business travel hub for the airline, filling a gap in the market.
Sutch foresees that the new service will also boost travel to connecting destinations like Bangkok, Bali, Shanghai, Taipei and Tokyo from Cathay Pacific's hub in Hong Kong.
Cathay Pacific is one of the biggest air cargo operators in SA. Kapur said the airline is big on cargo and very excited about opportunities in this regard the new direct route can bring.
According to Harris, there is a real business case to be made for the cargo side due to exports like fruit and seafood from the Western Cape and imports like toys, machinery and electronics from Asia to the province.
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