Emirates, Airlink activate partnership amid high demand for domestic capacity

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Emirates and South Africa-based regional carrier Airlink have officially activated their codeshare partnership.  

In a statement released on June 6, 2022, Emirates said the partnership will make it easier for customers to create an “ideal itinerary” with the benefit of “seamless connections and a single booking reference across eight domestic South African cities via the airline’s gateways Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban”.  

The gulf-carrier’s passengers will gain booking access to a wide range of additional flights, including eight destinations from Johannesburg, five destinations from Cape Town and one point from Durban, the airline said.  

Examples of some new route options include Bloemfontein, Hoedspruit, Port Elizabeth, Kimberley, George, and East London. 

Emirates’ flight schedule in South African currently consists of double daily flights to Dubai from Johannesburg, daily flights to Dubai from Cape Town and five weekly flights to and from Durban. The airline also shares a range of partnerships with South Africa-based airlines. 

“With the revival of its South African Airways partnership, as well as its codeshare agreement with Airlink, and interlines with Cemair and FlySafair, the airline has expanded its reach to 79 regional points in southern Africa,” the statement concluded.  

Growing demand for domestic capacity in South Africa 

Emirates’ partnership with Airlink comes at a time where there is high demand within South Africa’s domestic market following the suspension of flights by South Africa-based airline Comair. Comair operates scheduled domestic services in South Africa as a partner of British Airways franchise and through its subsidiary Kulula.com 

On May 31, 2022, Comair announced the suspension of all its flights after failing to secure additional funding. 

“We did everything we could to avoid it. Comair, the BRPs (Business Rescue Practitioners), and the lenders are working all out to get the funding in place so that we can resume our normal flight schedule as soon as possible,” Glenn Orsmond, Comair chief executive, said.  

In a statement published on June 2, 2022, South African Airways announced that it would increase capacity to meet the domestic demand left by the suspension of Comair’s flights. 

“The team at SAA has been working hard to find solutions to help affected customers and is in the process of adjusting our flying programme to adding more seats between Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban,” said John Lamola, South African Airways’ interim chairperson and chief executive officer in the statement released by SAA.   

Prior to its flight suspension, Comair was estimated to serve around 40% of the South African market, with a fleet of 12 Boeing 737 aircraft. 

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