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In hot of the press industry news South African Airways (SAA) has announced it will introduce a sixth weekly flight on its Johannesburg/Mumbai route launching 21 August.

The additional weekly frequency comes hot on the heels of the fifth weekly frequency SAA launched in the middle of June. Prior to this, SAA was operating four return flights per week on the Johannesburg/Mumbairoute.

This is good news for travellers from India to South Africa. It means travellers from India will be able to catch daily flights to Johannesburg, except on Thursdays, and fly out from Johannesburg daily, expect on Wednesdays.

Jerome Simelane, SAA head of revenue optimisation and planning, said the launch of the additional flights was a response to market demand. Over the last three years, the market between Southern Africa and India has grown significantly. South Africas entry into the (Brazil Russia India China South Africa) BRICS alliance has also played a role with greater investment between the two countries. Our analysis showed that a sixth frequency would benefit the market due to the current gap between demand and supply, he said.

SAA is now the only carrier that flies direct between South Africa and India. Emirates, Kenya Airways and Ethiopian Airlines also fly to India via their hubs.

SAA is operating an A330-200 Airbus on the route – 1 of its newest and most fuel-efficient aircraft, with 36 business and 186 economy class seats.

Simelane added that SAA would look to adding more frequencies on the Johannesburg/ Mumbai route as demand grew, but had no immediate plans to fly direct to other points in India.

Hanneli Slabber, South African Tourism’s country manager for India, said the past year had been an eventful and successful year for South African Tourism in India. We grew beyond expectations in this market. India has contributed immensely towards tourism growth in South Africa, therefore emerging as a core market for us, she said.

In 2011, 90 367 Indians visited South Africa, a 26% jump compared with 2010. The upward trend, already seen in January 2012, continued in February 2012, clearly showing the rising Indian travel interest towards South Africa.

In February 2012, 6 805 Indian travellers visited South Africa, up more than 24%, compared with the 5 449 visitors in February 2011.

In such a scenario, additional flight frequencies is definitely good news for us. The additional flight will make South Africa more accessible. From our interaction with our trade partners we have learnt that there is always a demand for more flight options. An increase in frequencies will certainly bridge the gap between supply and demand, she concluded.