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New direct flight to Cape Town expected to unlock economic opportunities

Oct 29 2018 21:10
Carin Smith

After an absence of 19 years, Austrian Airlines returns to South Africa with a seasonal direct flight between Vienna and Cape Town.

This direct flight will increase opportunities for business, investment, travel and trade, Andre Dr André Schulz, Lufthansa Group General Manager for Southern Africa, said at a media briefing on Monday.

About 60 Austrian companies have subsidiaries in SA. As for the leisure market, he said Cape Town is seen as a value-for-money destination.

Apart from the new direct flight, other airlines in the Lufthansa Group, already offering seasonal direct flights to the Mother City are Edelweiss (to Zurich) and Lufthansa (to Munich). This is apart from the year-round Lufthansa direct flight between Cape Town and Frankfurt.

Schulz said the new direct flight forms part of the Lufthansa Group's multi-brand strategy. In his view, it reinforces the Lufthansa Group's commitment to connecting SA to European markets, unlocking trade, tourism and economic opportunities.

Furthermore, he said international travellers prefer Cape Town as a transfer hub rather than OR Tambo International Airport.

"We are also talking to the Austrian business chamber about corporate travellers, so don't under estimate the SME travel from Cape Town," added Schulz.

"We already see a fair number of corporate clients on the Munich-Cape Town route."

As from 27 October 2018 to the end of March 2019 Austrian Airlines will offer two direct flights per week between Cape Town and Vienna.

A new Boeing 777 will be used on the route. Apart from economy and business class, premium economy will be an option.

At the media briefing Austrian Airlines CEO Dr Alexis von Hoensbroech said the airline is 60 years old and serves 130 destinations worldwide.

"We always observe and see how things develop. If we see the two weekly flights between Cape Town and Vienna need to be increased, we will and vice versa," he said.

In 2017, 23 200 Austrian tourists visited Cape Town and Austrian Airlines hopes to capture many of these, especially since the number of visitors from this source market is increasing, according to Von Hoensbroech.

"Despite the economic situation in SA, tourism is still an important sector," he said.

"We also want South Africans to use the direct flight to Vienna and then on to destinations in the rest of Europe - including to the growing Eastern European markets."

According to 2017 data about 24 000 SA tourists headed to Austria that year.

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