Air Belgium seeks Southern Africa pie with Airlink partnership

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The global tourism space is extremely competitive, and there is need to constantly find innovative ways to get more people to visit Africa.

As travellers seek new adventures and new locations to explore, Southern Africa can be among the world’s most sought-after destinations.

South Africa has been using the latest innovations to attract more visitors to the country.

  • Air Belgium has inked a new commercial deal with South Africa’s independent and premier airline, Airlink. This is expected to conveniently connect customers travelling to or from Brussels with 36 destinations across Southern Africa.
  • This first cooperation agreement between both companies offers Air Belgium clients the ability to purchase multi-sector journeys for flights operated by Air Belgium and Airlink on one ticket. It includes the added ability for passengers to have their luggage checked through to their final destination when transiting through Johannesburg, South Africa.

In the latest development, Air Belgium has signed a new commercial agreement with an independent African airline, Airlink, which conveniently connects customers travelling to or from Brussels with 36 destinations across Southern Africa.

The first direct air linkage for more than two decades between South Africa and Belgium is expected to stimulate tourism and investment between the two countries and forge new gateways into the greater European and African single markets.

Belgium is South Africa’s sixth-largest trading partner, the Western Cape’s seventh-largest European export market, and an important European source market.

According to figures from the Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC), a global data visualisation tool for international trade, as of 2020, South Africa exported US$2.33 billion to Belgium. The main products that South Africa exported to Belgium are Diamonds, Delivery Trucks, and Precious Metal Scraps.

In the same year, Belgium exported US$838 million to South Africa. The main products that Belgium exported to South Africa were Packaged medicaments, pesticides, vaccines, blood, antisera, toxins and cultures.

Read: Trade relations between Belgium and the DRC

“South Africa is in high demand for Belgian and European travellers. We are delighted that our dynamic agreement with Airlink will allow us to offer our customers seamless connections to 12 popular South African leisure and business destinations, such as the Kruger National Park, Durban and Gqeberha (formerly known as Port Elizabeth), as well as important business destinations like Kimberley, Bloemfontein and Richards Bay, amongst others. We’re also excited to be able to offer our passengers the possibility to travel to bucket-list destinations within the SADC region as well as the DRC,” said Niky Terzakis, CEO of Air Belgium.

Airlink CEO and Managing Director Rodger Foster added: “Choice, reliability, top-quality service and convenience are Airlink hallmarks. Through this cooperative arrangement with Air Belgium, Airlink now offers convenient connections through Johannesburg and Cape Town to Belgium, which, besides hosting the EU capital, is a leading gateway for visitors to Europe. It is also the heart of the international diamond trade and an important centre for industrial manufacturing, making it a crucial trading partner for many of the markets and countries we serve.”

This first cooperation agreement between both companies offers Air Belgium clients the ability to purchase multi-sector journeys for flights operated by Air Belgium and Airlink on one ticket. It includes the added ability for passengers to have their luggage checked through to their final destination when transiting through Johannesburg, South Africa.

The agreement follows the recent inauguration of Air Belgium’s new service between Brussels, Johannesburg, and Cape Town, using the fuel-efficient Airbus A330neo aircraft.

“South Africa has historically been a major tourist destination for Belgium. There are also over 5 700 Belgians living and working in South Africa, which is significant as a market for us. We’re thrilled to introduce South Africans to a new airline and an alternative route – and thereby direct access to the heart of Europe,” commented Niky Terzakis during the inauguration.

South Arica’s Tourism COO, Nomasonto Ndlovu, stressed that Air Belgium’s arrival would further the progress made in dispelling the country’s reputation as a hard-to-reach destination. She also applauded the willingness of Air Belgium to partner with South Africa.

“South Africa is still regarded as a long-haul destination, so when we have another direct flight from the heart of Europe, it is highly significant for us. Direct flights are essential in driving our tourism recovery.”

Airlink regional route map.(Photo/ Tourism Update)

The South African tourism industry has set a goal of securing 15.6 million arrivals to the country by 2030. New flights are expected to be launched by year-end.

Read: UAE-based Emirates Airlines expands via partnership in Southern Africa

Qantas will operate the only direct service from Perth to Johannesburg, South Africa from November 1, 2022.

Currently, people going to Johannesburg from Perth currently have to fly on Qantas via Sydney or via the Middle East. The new flights will cut more than six hours from the fastest current travel time.

United Airlines will operate a non-stop flight between Washington Dulles Airport and Cape Town International Airport. With this route, United will be the first airline to offer non-stop, round-trip service between Washington DC and Cape Town. The first flight will take off on November 18, 2022, and there will be three flights every week after that.

Air Mauritius is set to resume non-stop flights from Cape Town to Mauritius from November 16 this year.

The airline said it would offer two weekly flights leaving at night (22h05) from Cape Town and arriving in the early morning in Mauritius (05h10).

Air Mauritius currently offers flights from Johannesburg OR Tambo with a one-way economy-class ticket. According to Bussiness Tech, FlySafair extended its route capacity earlier this year to include twice-weekly flights from OR Tambo to Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport.

Delta airlines also announced a new nonstop route from Hartsfield–Jackson International Airport to Cape Town International Airport.

The airline said that the new route between Atlanta and Cape Town will be available by the beginning of December 17, 2022. It comes as part of the carrier’s expansion from the largest airline hub in the world, located in Atlanta, into Africa.

South Africa’s natural and cultural diversity supports a globally compelling tourism proposition. The country’s tourism base is significant and it is one of the world’s most popular long-haul destinations. South Africa’s top tourist destination has lots of beautiful coastlines and beaches nearby, many whale-watching tours, and amazing scenery.

Read: Machine learning, Artificial Intelligence changing Africa’s Airports

Albert is a Chemical Technologist and Author. He is passionate about mining, stock market investing, Fintech and Edutech.

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