WITH the changeover from its summer to winter schedule, from November 1, the Lufthansa Group will boost capacity between South Africa and Germany and Switzerland.
Exciting news for Cape Town’s tourist season is that the first flight of the season from Munich will arrive in South Africa on Monday, November 1, at 06h00. This is a seasonal service and will operate three times a week, increasing to five flights a week from the end of November.
The popular flights from Frankfurt to Cape Town will operate five times a week throughout the European winter/South African summer season, while Swiss-based leisure airline, Edelweiss, has resumed its Cape Town-Zurich seasonal service with two flights a week. The seasonal timetables will run until the last weekend in March.
In total, the group will have 14 flights a week to Johannesburg and 12 to Cape Town, equivalent to 81% of its South Africa capacity pre-COVID.
The FRA-JNB route by Lufthansa and ZRH-JNB by SWISS will both resume daily flights from November 1, for the first time since the start of the pandemic.
Dr André Schulz, GM Southern Africa & East Africa Lufthansa Group Airlines, said the group was happy with the uptick in capacity and forward bookings. He said the increase in capacity on the JNB routes was a direct result of demand from corporates for business and first class, while CPT was traditionally stronger for inbound leisure traffic.
Schulz said the group was becoming more and more optimistic about future business to and from South Africa, especially since the country had been removed from the UK’s coronavirus red list and Germany’s list of high-risk countries for the disease.
“It is two-fold. If you look at Johannesburg and Cape Town, it is two different customer segments. For Cape Town, we see a good booking outlook, mainly for inbound. More and more German, Swiss and European tourists are coming back, and we are happy to support the restart of the South African tourism industry by offering more capacity into Cape Town.
“We are putting capacity into the market because we see, wherever restrictions are lifted, people want to travel, especially for the upcoming high season in Cape Town.”
Flights between CPT and MUC will be operated by an Airbus A350-900, which Schulz said was an exciting product experience. “Cape Town is the only LH destination in Africa where we are bringing the A350. It is the best product that we have. And what’s becoming more important is that it is our most eco-efficient aircraft.”
LH has put its A380s in ‘deep storage’. However, Schulz confirmed that the airline would be bringing its biggest long-haul aircraft, the Boeing 747-800, back to JNB, featuring first and business class. SWISS flights to JNB will be operated by an A340-300.
Looking ahead, Schulz said business from travel agencies remained a key component of the group’s strategy for South Africa. “South Africa is still a market where we strongly rely on the trust relationships that we have with the travel agencies. The COVID-19 crisis has also shown that travel agents can create value for their customers because of all these uncertainties. It is a decisive time for travel agents to prove that they can add value for the traveller.”