South African Airways celebrates 50 years of direct flights to Mauritius
It all started on 25 November 1957 when SAA introduced a fortnightly DC-7B service across the Indian Ocean from Johannesburg to Perth in partnership with Qantas, stopping at Mauritius and the Cocos Islands. (Image: North Glen News)
South African Airways, the national flag carrier and largest airlines of South Africa, celebrated last week a half-century of direct flights between Johannesburg and Mauritius.
The airline first introduced flights between Johannesburg and the Indian Ocean in 1957 as a refuelling stop on route to Perth with direct flights commencing 8 years later.
The airline presently operates daily flights on the route with a recent 9% increase in frequency resulting in twice-daily operations on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays.
“The route was one of SAA’s first African destinations and has shown sustained growth over the past 50 years,” said the airline.
According to the Acting CEO of SAA, Nico Bezuidenhout, Mauritius has remained an integral and significant destination for SAA throughout its history.
He said, “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 both business leisure and travel”.
From an economic perspective, the airline route bridging Johannesburg to Mauritius has continued to perform positively with a growing trade and financial development business travel outside of traditional seasonal leisure trip.
Since 1995, Mauritius has enjoyed consistent GDP growth at aggregate of 5.9% since 1995, as there has been a marked increased in inbound directional travel to Johannesburg while serving as hub and entry point to other African, American and European destinations
Furthermore, Bezuidenhout added that SAA serves as patron to the South African Chamber of Commerce in Mauritius to further advance its business community engagement.
It has to be noted that visitors from the African continent to Mauritius between January and December 2014 were at 274,156, after a decrease of 1.3% compared to the corresponding period in 2013 when tourist arrivals were at 277,773.
It all started on 25 November 1957 when SAA introduced a fortnightly DC-7B service across the Indian Ocean from Johannesburg to Perth in partnership with Qantas, 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 Coco 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 hrs 32 minutes.