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New SA flight routes travellers can take advantage of in 2017 - Selene Brophy


Cape Town - South Africa’s connectivity is on the up and up - which can only mean good things for those travellers with itchy feet. And if the experts’ current outlook for travel in SA is anything to go by, there couldn't be a better time for South Africans to make the most of air travel. Key trends show air travel is getting cheaper across the board - this is according to Cheapflights search engine data for the December 2016 period. South Africans are getting a better deal for air travel when compared to last year this time, according to the online booking engine's Managing Director Andrew Shelton - all buoyed by having more choice when it comes to airlines, including better reach. WATCH: SA enjoying the best deals in air travel According to aviation expert Linden Birns, the number of direct long-haul routes to and from South Africa is nowhere near the high watermark witnessed in the mid-late 1990s, when a record 64 carriers serviced South Africa including some from Eastern Europe, West Africa, Russia, and Latin America. "Since then, and for various reasons, several have exited the South African market. In parallel, over the same period SAA has whittled down its European and Asian networks (eliminating its flights with its own aircraft to Amsterdam, Lisbon, Paris, Rome, Milan, Vienna, Athens, Tel Aviv, Singapore, Taipei, Dubai and Beijing) and also withdrawing all of its long haul services between Cape Town, the USA, UK and Europe and between Durban and London. “A number of things have affected the industry since then including less restrictive bilateral air service agreements which now allow for competitive pricing, the erosion of the rand, the advent of more capable new generation long-haul aircraft, and more recently the emergence of the three main Gulf carriers, Turkish Airlines and Ethiopian Airlines, which are re-writing the industry's hub-and-feed copybook," says Birns. Over the last six months a number of new routes, capacity increases and code-share partnerships have been put into effect in South Africa. Here are a few of the key developments in air connectivity that travellers can take advantage of in 2017. SA connectivity to South America on the increase LATAM Airlines launched a direct São Paulo to Joburg route in October 2016. Said to be the leading airline group in Latin America with 115 destinations as well as connections to Europe, United States, the Caribbean and Oceanian - the airline will offer three weekly flights between OR Tambo International in Johannesburg and Guarulhos International Airport in São Paulo, Brazil. Turkish Airlines also launched new flights connecting SA to Havana in December 2016. Cuba is fast becoming one of the most sought-after travel destinations for travellers across the globe. And now South Africans intrigued by this South American culture can connect to the Cuban capital. South Africans can fly from Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban to Havana via Istanbul. From Havana, the flight will carry on to Caracas, Venezuela, before returning to the Turkish Airlines hub Istanbul. The Istanbul – Havana – Caracas (HAV-CCS) operates 3 times a week. Traveller 24


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