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Airlines plan Sadc routes

Nov 16 2011 18:13 Sapa

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Durban - Plans are afoot to have two airlines flying directly from Durban's King Shaka International Airport to Southern African Development Community (Sadc) countries such as Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

SA Airways and Express airlines are willing to fly from Durban to Sadc members and other African countries, Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba said on Wednesday.

He was briefing reporters after discussing state-owned enterprises with the KwaZulu-Natal government at the Dube Tradeport, which incorporates King Shaka Airport.

Government is also seeking to get more international airlines to fly directly to Durban, he said.

So far, Emirates is the only carrier to fly international routes out of Durban.

Gigaba said negotiations are at an advanced stage, and the issue of routes is still being discussed with the two airlines.

"We are still agreeing on the issue of routes and we hope that it will be sorted out soon."

He said the aim of Wednesday's discussion was to interact with the provincial leaders on state-owned enterprises capital projects for KwaZulu-Natal.

The meeting was also attended by representatives of airline companies.

KwaZulu-Natal premier Zweli Mkhize said the King Shaka International Airport was a major success, adding that there were agreements with airlines to grow King Shaka International's cargo section.

Economic Development MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu denied that the airport's cargo section was underutilised.

"We will be giving data before the end of these discussions to prove that the cargo section is not a white elephant. It is doing well," he said.

Gigaba announced that state-owned company Infraco would expand broadband connectivity to nine more areas in KwaZulu-Natal.

"This is aimed at improving connectivity in the province. We believe that this initiative will help a lot because they will expand to rural areas," he said.

The broadband infrastructure would be placed in Ugu, Umgungundlovu, Uthukela, Zululand, Umzinyathi, Umkhanyakude, Ilembe and Uthungulu districts in the next five years.

The broadband Infraco currently comprises a national long distance fibre-optic network between all major metropolitan areas.

Gigaba said government is expanding rail and harbour infrastructure in KwaZulu-Natal.

"We will expand the Richards Bay harbour and Durban harbour is also going to be expanded."

The old Durban International Airport site, south of Durban, would be used as a container terminal as part of expanding Durban harbour.

"The establishment of the cargo terminal at the old airport site will help to reduce traffic congestion towards the harbour," Gigaba said.

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