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‘Booster shot!’: Premier hails airport upgrade progress

Home Government & Municipal ‘Booster shot!’: Premier hails airport upgrade progress

KWAZULU-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala has described as “a welcome booster shot” for the provincial economy the progress being made at the R72-million upgrade of Mkhuze Airport.

Zikalala accompanied by Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs MEC, Ravi Pillay was speaking recently on the sidelines of his Operation Siyahlola (following up on our commitments) tour in UMkhanyakude District where he inspected progress made to-date on the construction of Mkhuze Airport and Aerotropolis.

“While focusing on tourism and cargo, Mkhuze Airport will complement King Shaka International Airport through chartered flights from Durban and other major areas such as Cape Town, Johannesburg and Kruger National Park,” he said.

“The upgrading of Mkhuze Airport augurs well with the Provincial Government’s quest of increasing tourism connectivity in the province, particularly to uMkhanyakude district with the highest concentration of Game reserves.”

Zikalala added that the KZN Regional Airport Strategy identifies nine strategic regional airports as critical for tourism and cargo development in the province. A “Master Plan” Mkhuze Airport was expected to attract critical infrastructure investment in mixed-use developments on land adjacent to the airport, while also supporting the proposed Agri-hub in the northern KZN town.

MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs Ravi Pillay ascribed these positive developments to the success of the Provincial Government’s Economic Recovery, Reconstruction and Transformation Plan.

“We have stated our commitment to increasing trade, tourism and beneficial collaboration with the rest of the world. Efficient and regular aviation services are necessary if we are to increase the number of visits to our province, in order to grow tourism numbers and to create jobs up and down the value-chain,” said Pillay.

Premier Zikalala also welcomed the return of Qatar Airways to Durban following its withdrawal ahead of the festive season over COVID-19 related health and safety concerns.

“Direct links to mid-hemisphere hubs such as Doha in the Gulf region bring the world closer by providing easy access to the global capitals of the world,” said Zikalala.

MEC Pillay added that Qatar Airways provides KZN with connectivity to over 150 markets around the world.

“With our vaccination programme well underway, the reintroduction of Qatar Airways allows us to revive our connectivity to strategic global markets, while rebuilding our relationships with both business and leisure travellers as well as service the demands of our airfreight market directly from Durban,” Pillay said.

eThekwini Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda agreed. “International air connectivity continues to be an important lifeblood for Durban, opening our city to significant tourism markets, while cementing our position as a trade gateway into the rest of the Sub-Saharan African region.”

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