by MTHULISI SIBANDA
JOHANNESBURG – EUROWINGS Discover’s launch of direct flights between Germany and South Africa is a major boost to the recovering tourism sector.
The company, Lufthansa Group’s leisure airline, serves the Frankfurt (FRA) – Kruger Mpumalanga International (MQP) route for the first time.
Eurowings Discover is the first intercontinental airline ever to introduce scheduled air services to the greater Kruger National Park region.
It took off from Frankfurt on Tuesday evening and touched town in Mbombela, Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (KMIA), the next afternoon.
After a short stopover in Windhoek, Namibia, light 4Y142 was welcomed with a water salute and a festive ceremony.
“We are both thrilled and proud to start flight operations between Frankfurt and Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport as the first intercontinental airline ever,” said Helmut Woelfel, Chief Commercial Officer at Eurowings Discover.
The executive said it was a unique addition to their leisure portfolio and the whole Lufthansa Group network.
“It was never easier for travellers from all over Europe to experience the beauty and diversity of this stunning nature and wildlife reserve which is particularly popular with holidaymakers from Germany,” Woelfel said.
Nompumelelo Hlophe, Mpumalanga Member of the Executive Committee for Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, welcomed the new service.
“The landing of the first ever direct flight from Germany is a sign of trust and confidence in our tourism industry,” she said.
“We’re very delighted that this will further expose and promote the destination of Mpumalanga as an international tourist destination of choice.”
German Ambassador, Andreas Peschke, also graced the occasion.
“This is really good news, both for South Africa as a tourism destination, and for German visitors who want to enjoy this part of this unique country,” the envoy said.
KMIA also welcomed Eurowings.
“Watching the wheels touchdown today was an incredible moment for all of us,” Grant Ponting, CEO of KMIA, said.
Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA) is equally excited at the flight that will promote the destination and increase tourist numbers to the province.
“This is a game changing achievement for the province,’ said Mduduzi Vilakazi, MTPA Acting CEO.
Germany is a key source market for South Africa.
Nomasonto Ndlovu, Chief Operating Officer at SA Tourism, said from the organisation’s insights, German tourists want to be outdoors exploring and enjoying nature.
“Mpumalanga offers this and more,” she said.
Eurowings Discover operates up to three weekly direct flights between Frankfurt and KMIA with a year-round service.
Eurowings Discover has a strong commercial focus on leisure destinations on the African continent.
Kruger Mpumalanga is the seventh destination offered by Eurowings Discover on the continent after Frankfurt to Mombasa, Zanzibar, Mauritius, Windhoek, Victoria Falls and Kilimanjaro.
– CAJ News