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City: SAA decision disappointing

Jun 07 2012 16:24 Sapa

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Johannesburg - The City of Cape Town expressed its disappointment on Thursday with SA Airways' decision to end direct flights between London and Cape Town after August 15.

In an open letter to SAA chairperson Cheryl Carolus and CEO Siza Mzimela, tourism spokesperson Grant Pascoe said: "Our very real concern is that this decision will have a negative impact on the tourism industry in Cape Town.

"This is an industry which injects R14.6bn per year into Cape Town's GDP (gross domestic product)."

SAA would cease the direct flights so it could redeploy its aircraft to routes with increasing demand, said general manager (commercial) Theunis Potgieter on Tuesday.

He said passengers flying from London to Cape Town would from August 16 be flying via Johannesburg's OR Tambo airport.

It is estimated 300 000 people are permanently employed in the tourism industry within the municipality, said Pascoe.

"We believe it would be a better option to initially downscale the operation if it is indeed financially unviable, and possibly negotiate the transfer of slots with other airlines."

Pascoe said the redirecting of flights seemed short-sighted, as the British market still represents significant value to Cape Town.

He appealed to Carolus to reconsider the decision to save much-needed jobs within the municipality.

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