World / China-Africa

Revamped flight schedule earns SAA dividends

By Li Jing ( Updated: 2014-05-24 19:40

Revamped flight schedule earns SAA dividends

South African Airways has rescheduled its flights' time to Beijing. Photo provided to China Daily

South African Airways has modified its flight schedule to Beijing, hoping to tap into the huge potential of the Chinese market, said a SAA senior official.

Changes to the schedule became effective on May 1, with the flight to Beijing departing from Johannesburg, the biggest city in South Africa, four hours earlier than previously.

"The improved times makes it easier for our customers to catch connecting flights to other destinations in China and the rest of Asia," said Kendy Phohleli, SAA general manager commercial (acting).

"We are working closely with our partner Air China on code share and interline, which will expand our presence in the Chinese market."

SAA introduced three weekly non-stop flights between Johannesburg and Beijing in 2012, the airline's second direct flight to China, after Hong Kong.

The Beijing route has boosted trade and tourism between the two countries. According to South Africa's Department of Trade and Industry, bilateral trade between the two has increased significantly from R118 billion ($14.5 billion) in 2009 to R263 in 2013.

China is the fastest growing source market of inbound tourism to South Africa, with 134,000 arrivals last year.

The Johannesburg-Beijing route has also contributed significantly in establishing South Africa as an aviation hub between South America and China.

The upcoming World Cup in Brazil is expected to step up route sales, Gcobani Mangcotywa said. The SAA regional general manager in Asia Pacific added: "It is more convenient to reach Brazil via South Africa than Europe and we have frequent flights connecting to South America."

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