Johannesburg. - South African Airways debuted its non-stop route to Beijing, China in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
It was the first of three new weekly flights between Johannesburg and the Chinese capital. In country to country trade, China is South Africa's largest.
Present on the inaugural flight was a high-level delegation including representatives from the departments of transport, tourism and public enterprises.
Deputy minister of public enterprises, Ben Martins said the department expected SAA to continously review its network strategy.
We're quite pleased with the latest route which will ensure that SAA utilises South Africa's strategic location in the Southern Hemisphere."
“The introduction of aviation links between nations nurtures economic activity,” said SAA CEO Siza Mzimela, “with domestic and regional benefit within
the Southern African Development Community (SADC) expected to pay dividends both in terms of trade and tourism.”
Mzimela also believes that substantial demand for tourism and trade to China will contribute to the success of the new route.
The Johannesburg Beijing route will also contribute significantly in establishing South Africa as an aviation hub between South America and China,
linking three of the five BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).
“We believe that the route will play a strategic role in the growing economic relationships and dependencies between the continents. Commercially, SAA is able to deliver seamless travel from Sao Paolo via Johannesburg to Beijing, servicing all three continents” said Mzimela.
SAA will operate its Airbus A340-600 long-haul aircraft on the route, non-stop with flying time of approximately 15 hours.