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Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  25 Mar 2015

AIR TRAVEL: SAA Celebrates 50 Years Of Direct Flights Between South Africa and Mauritius; Frequency Increases Dr

 





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This year, South African Airways (SAA)celebrates a half-century of direct flights between Johannesburg and Mauritius. The airline presently operates daily flights on the route with a recent 9% increase in frequency resulting in twice-daily operations on Thursdays with double flights on Saturdays and Sundays. The route was one of SAA’s first Indian Ocean island destinations and has shown sustained growth over the past fifty years.

The airline first introduced flights between Johannesburg and the Indian Ocean Island in 1957 as a refuelling stop en-route to Perth, with direct end-point flights commencing eight years later. “Mauritius has remained an important destination for SAA throughout its history,” says SAA Acting CEO, Nico Bezuidenhout. “Recent frequency additions on several key African routes, including Mauritius, hold strategic commercial value for the business and forms part of the impetus of the LTTS (Long-Term Turnaround Strategy). Mauritius remains one of the fastest growing economies on the continent with consistent demand-side growth in both business and leisure travel.”

Load factors on the route continue to perform positively, with growing trade and economic development driving business travel outside of seasonal leisure trips. Mauritius has enjoyed consistent GDP growth at an aggregate of 5,9% since 1995. “There has been a marked increase in inbound directional travel from the island to Johannesburg, too,” says Bezuidenhout, “with Johannesburg serving as hub and entry point into other African, American and European destinations.” SAA serves as patron to the South African Chamber of Commerce in Mauritius to further advance its business community engagement.

It all started on 25 November 1957 when SAA, in partnership with Qantas, introduced a fortnightly DC-7B service across the Indian Ocean from Johannesburg to Perth; stopping at Mauritius and the Cocos Islands. This flight took 25 hours and was known as the “Wallaby Service”. On 7 May 1965, the SAA DC-7B service to Australia via Mauritius was increased to a weekly service. The DC aircraft was retired from the SAA fleet in 1967 and Mauritius became an online station as from 1965.

On 29 March 1967, SAA started operating the B707 to Australia via Mauritius only. The Cocos Islands stop was removed and on 17 May 1967, the Boeing 707 aircraft set up a new record for the flight between Mauritius and Perth, covering 3,740 miles in just 5 hours and 32 minutes. The Mauritius route is now served by the Airbus A320, the latest arrival in the SAA fleet.


Author: Fiona Salvage


 
 
 
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