Cape Town - Lufthansa celebrated its new direct year-round flight between Frankfurt and Cape Town with a celebration in the Mother City on Friday.
Via Frankfurt passengers can connect to about 200 destinations globally.
The first of these flights are due to arrive in Cape Town on Saturday December 3. An Airbus A340-300 is used on this route.
This route will be served three times a week in the first year of service. On top of that there are seasonal direct flights by the group from Munich and Zurich to the Mother City.
Tamur Goudarzi-Pour, Lufthansa vice president for sales in Africa and the Middle East, told Fin24 on Friday that South Africa is a key market for the group.
"Cape Town has risen significantly in global rankings as a preferred destination for both leisure and business travellers and we plan to extend the service to five weekly flights in the European winter season of 2017/2018,” said Goudarzi-Pour.
“The overwhelming demand for a year-round route to the Mother City has presented a sound business case for expanding our service to this route."
Claus Becker, Lufthansa senior director of sales for sub-Saharan Africa, explained that within sub-Saharan Africa, it is clear that there are certain markets and cities which continue to dominate route traffic, but there are new cities emerging as routes of particular interest.
Johannesburg, Nairobi and Addis Ababa are the leading airline traffic hubs within this region, however, Lufthansa sees an increased growth of Cape Town as one of the fastest growing cities within this group.
"And now that we are linking it to our entire flight network out of Frankfurt, we are sure the city will gain additional tourists and business travellers alike,” said Becker.
Goudarzi-Pour told Fin24 the decision regarding the Cape Town/Frankfurt flights was taken due to an increase in demand.
"There are lots of inbound passengers to Cape Town from Germany and the US and the Cape Town/Frankfurt flight will contribute to both the leisure and business tourism sectors of Cape Town. We hope it will contribute to the success of city and the country. Especially in the current economic climate it can bring an additional lifeline for the Mother City," he said.
He added that Cape Town is a cost-effective destination for tourists - including those looking for family holidays. Apart from the benefit of the weaker rand for overseas visitors to Cape Town, Goudarzi-Pour said they also find lots to do on offer here.
Regarding the recent strike by the Vereinigung Cockpit union, he said the company is undergoing restructuring and it is very important to reach agreements with the various stakeholders. Agreements have been reached with all groups except one, where the latest offer is currently on the table.
As for the global aviation outlook, Goudarzi-Pour, said it is very important to look at which segments are involved.
"Competition is tough in all geographic areas, but in certain ones we see a lot of the offers are not in line with the demand structure - for instance an over-supply. This leads to unprecedented yield decline. I think realism also kicks in at a certain time with everyone," he said.
"We have adjusted in Africa and the Middle East by taking capacities out where we thought it was no longer worth it. Instead we looked at special growth segments, for instance, a new Nairobi flight."
He emphasised that Lufthansa adjusts proactively so capacity can be taken out ahead of time.
"We do not wait for things to go wrong first. We still expect good results for 2016 for the group. We are doing our homework to ensure we have a bright future. We have to continue with our efforts due to our massive investments, for instance in new planes. We also have to get our cost structure down in order to compete," he said.
Dr André Schulz, Lufthansa's general manager in Southern Africa, said the Cape Town/Frankfurt flight will build an additional cultural bridge between the German and South African people.
He said the Cape Town/Frankfurt flight reflect a significant and important move by Lufthansa.
"European tourists are looking for the beauty of Cape Town and the quality of the food and wine as well as the friendliness of the residents. Cape Town is really a very special place. On top of that the weak rand brings value for money for the tourists," he said.
He too pointed to the growing number of business tourists to the Western Cape.
"We recognise that Cape Town’s popularity is not only a short term effect, but a market that requires a long-term investment approach," said Schulz.
"We don’t think Cape Town is just a trend. Lufthansa is committed to this market. We see growth in SA from a Lufthansa perspective and from a Cape Town perspective."
Although currently most business is on incoming flights to Cape Town, Schulz said the group is also focusing on trying to grow the outbound traffic from SA.
He said a lot of the business travellers to Cape Town involve the SME sector. Becker added that many business travellers to Cape Town are involved in the fashion, film and entertainment industry.
According to Walter Lindner, German ambassador in SA, there are about 250 000 Germans living in SA. About 600 German companies, including those listed on the blue chip German DAX stock market index.
He pointed out that German tourists are the second largest group of foreign visitors to South Africa after those from the UK.
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