Three major airlines, namely Cathay Pacific, Ethiopian Airlines, and TAAG Angola Airlines, are eager to enhance their flight frequencies between their hubs and South Africa’s major airports. According to official notices in the Government Gazette, these airlines have applied to increase the number of weekly flights to and from Johannesburg, Durban, and Cape Town.
Cathay Pacific is making a comeback after suspending flights during the COVID-19 pandemic. Starting from August 2, 2023, they plan to resume their service between Hong Kong International and Johannesburg OR Tambo, offering three non-stop weekly flights. They intend to use Airbus A350-900 aircraft to provide passengers with a premium flight experience and direct access to Hong Kong and other Asian destinations in their network.
TAAG Angola Airlines aims to enhance its connectivity between Angola and South Africa by increasing its weekly flights to 23. Currently operating daily flights from Luanda Quatro de Fevereiro to Johannesburg and Cape Town, TAAG also plans to introduce at least three weekly flights between Luanda and Durban King Shaka International. This expansion would make TAAG the sole airline operating flights between Angola and all three of these destinations. To support its growth plans, TAAG has finalized an order for nine aircraft during the Paris Air Show in 2023, bringing its total order to 15 Airbus A220 aircraft through lease agreements with international partners.
Ethiopian Airlines, Africa’s leading carrier, is also looking to increase its flights between Ethiopia and South Africa. They plan to offer up to 35 weekly flights from Addis Ababa Bole International, with 14 of them heading directly to Cape Town. Currently, the airline operates Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner flights between Addis Ababa and Johannesburg up to 21 times a week.
While the South African aviation industry has seen significant recovery post-pandemic, aviation experts caution that it might still be early to grant all airlines the right to fly on all requested routes. The gazetting process serves as a means of public engagement before awarding the licenses, and not all airlines may be granted permission for the requested frequency increases.
Cape Town has experienced increased demand due to the Cape Town Air Access project by Wesgro, leading to the addition of six new African airlines since 2015. If the airlines receive approval to increase their flight frequencies, Cape Town’s passenger activity is expected to witness further growth.