Eswatini Air, the national carrier of the Kingdom of Eswatini, has launched a new route between King Mswati III International Airport in Manzini, Eswatini, and King Shaka International Airport in Durban, South Africa.
The route commenced operations on 5 May 2023. The route will be operated by an Embraer ERJ 145 aircraft with a maximum capacity of 50 passengers, and initially, three flights per week will be available on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, with plans to increase frequencies to seven times a week from June 2023, based on demand.
Speaking about the new route, Mr Siboniso Duma the MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs and the leader of Government Business in KwaZulu-Natal said, “We are pleased to announce the launch of our new route between Eswatini and Durban. This route not only enhances the tourism potential between the two destinations but also strengthens trade relations.
Eswatini is one of the key regional tourism markets and shares strong historical and cultural ties with the province of KwaZulu-Natal. Pre-pandemic, tourist arrivals from Eswatini averaged 290 000 per annum and in 2022 tourist arrivals demonstrated a strong recovery of 89%. This presents an exciting opportunity for Eswatini Air to grow as a partner in accelerating the recovery of tourism between the two destinations.”
The introduction of this new route is expected to facilitate trade between KwaZulu-Natal and Eswatini, further strengthening the already strong economic relations between the two destinations. According to the World Bank, over 60% of exports from Eswatini come to South Africa, and over 80% of Eswatini’s imports come from South Africa. The new route will also provide a significant boost to the regional tourism market, with Eswatini being one of the key regional tourism markets and having strong historical and cultural ties with the province of KwaZulu-Natal.
Deputy Chairperson of Economic Development and Planning Committee in eThekwini, Councillor Phili Ndlovu said, “We are excited about the launch of this new route into Durban as we work to drive the recovery of our tourism sector.
As the eThekwini Municipality, we look forward to working closely with Eswatini Air, by creating awareness of the new route and providing support to the airline in an effort to demonstrate our commitment to strengthening relationships with our African counterparts and showing the socio-economic benefits of making tourism a priority in achieving a development agenda. Attracting more direct airlines to eThekwini remains key in order to boost tourism and trade.”
To celebrate the launch of the new route, the government of KwaZulu-Natal and Eswatini Air, hosted a delegation of 40 Eswatini dignitaries on board the inaugural flight, which included the Minister of Public Works and Transport, the Minister of Tourism, key media, and select tour operators, in order to facilitate both tourism and trade on the new route.
Mr Nkosinathi Myataza, ACSA Regional General Manager at King Shaka International Airport concluded by saying, “The inaugural flight reinforces the importance of the aviation industry and how it remains a key mode of transport, generating significant benefits for an economy, by enabling tourism and trade, more significant in the context of the IAfCTA (African Continental Free Trade Area). But more so, connecting friends and relatives of these two countries especially the KZN Region with a long history of fraternal relations.
It can also not escape us that this is Africa month where we celebrate our continent.”