South Africa would lose more than 140 000 in bound foreign tourists if Emirates Airline were to halt flights to the country‚ an economic impact study by the airline shows.
This would amount to a R2.3-billion loss to South Africa’s economy because the airline provides “80unique one-stop connections” to this country‚ it found.’
Emirates is the biggest foreign carrier operating in South Africa by number of seats. Its 49 flights a week provide 20 803 seats.
It commissioned the study after being embroiled in a dispute with the Department of Transport‚ which in 2014 tried to prevent the airline from adding a fourth daily flight between Johannesburg and Abu Dhabi.
In a separate development‚ the airline is under investigation by the Competition Commission for abuse of dominance after allegations surfaced that the carrier offered incentives to travel agents to divert sales from competitors.
Emirates is the world’s biggest airline‚ with a fleet of 251 aircraft.
With regard to the spat with the Department of Transport‚ Emirates said it was adding the flight interms of a bilateral air services agreement and memorandum of understanding between South Africa and the United Arab Emirates.
In addition‚ the department had given the airline a letter authorising the flight.
Deputy transport director-general Zakhele Thwalalater withdrew the authorisation‚ saying South Africa wanted to renegotiate the bilateral agreement.
The official who sent the letter was suspended.
Emirates obtained a court order stating that the bilateral agreement was in force and the first flight went ahead in October 2014.Emirates began operating an additional daily service between Cape Town and Dubai in July.
Transport economist Joachim Vermooten said Emirates had a big network‚ connecting passengers in South Africa to other airports via Dubai. – TMGDigital