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British Airways is operating its busiest schedule ever to South Africa this summer season, offering up to 33 flights a week over peak periods.

As usual, the airline is upping its daily winter Cape Town Boeing 747-400 services to double-daily flights over the South African summer. This year it is also adding three Boeing 777-ER flights from Gatwick to Cape Town. The first of these flights landed at Cape Town International today (25 November).

Unlike the Boeing 747-400s, which offer a choice of four cabins, First, Club World, World Traveller Plus and World Traveller, the Boeing 777-200s from Gatwick have a three-cabin configuration, with no First.

Over the periods of especially high demand, from 1 – 9 January and 3 – 27 February, British Airways will offer two more Boeing 747-400 services from Heathrow. During these periods there will be 19 flights a week between the UK and Cape Town.

“The Cape Town route has grown consistently over the past few years and now even doubling the winter capacity isn’t enough to match demand. Fortunately Gatwick gives us the flexibility to add more services, using aircraft that are ideally configured for leisure customers,” said Sue Petrie, British Airways commercial manager for Southern Africa.“These and the extra two Heathrow services mean that over the peak of peaks we’ll be offering over 6 000 seats a week on the route.”

Western Cape Minister of Economic Development and Tourism, Alan Winde, said: “The additional capacity and steady growth we have seen on this route is excellent news for our tourism sector. Through the Western Cape’s Project Khulisa economic strategy, we are seeking to add up to a further 100 000 jobs to this sector. To reach this goal, we launched the Cape Town Air Access initiative to make it easier for tourists to visit us. In the past year, we’ve added over 400 000 direct two-way seats between our region and key international markets. Forward bookings for our summer season show an increase in tourists travelling to the Western Cape, including 15% growth from the United Kingdom. As an important partner in driving this growth, I would like to thank British Airways for their continued business confidence in the Western Cape.”

British Airways has been promoting the Gatwick – Cape Town service in the UK using a social media campaign featuring fun, pop-up displays of African animals appearing at train stations.

The good news for Capetonians is that as a route launch promotion it is discounting published fares to Gatwick by up to 50%, with prices starting from R8 735 (including taxes and surcharges) in World Traveller. The offer runs for 25 – 29 November for travel from 25 November this year to 26 March 2017.

Deidre Davids, spokesperson for ACSA Cape Town International Airport said: “We welcome the commitment British Airways has made to expand the Cape Town – London routes. Offering passengers the ability to link directly with London Gatwick increases Cape Town’s value proposition. The ability to offer passengers a seamless connection remains key. We expect this summer season to be especially busy and this can be attributed to this kind of route expansion.”

The airline has also upped capacity to Johannesburg, where it operates 14 flights a week using a combination of A380s and Boeing 747-400s. It has now expanded the daily A380 services to 10 a week.

The 747s it is operating boast refreshed interiors and state-of-the-art inflight entertainment systems, similar to those on its newest aircraft. They are also specially configured to offer more Club World seats.

“Together, the expanded A380 service and refreshed 747s have increased our premium capacity on the route by 15%, something that our business customers particularly appreciate.”

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