Air Belgium now plans SA flights in September – when KLM will already fly from Cape Town daily

An Air Belgium plane promoting its regular destination, Martinique, seen landing at Charleroi airport.

An Air Belgium plane promoting its regular destination, Martinique, seen landing at Charleroi airport. (Photo by Fabrizio Gandolfo/SOPA Images/LightRocke

  • Air Belgium is launching South Africa’s first direct connection to Brussels, in September, thanks to a Chinese investment.
  • It will be a seasonal flight for now.
  • Meanwhile KLM is pushing up its flight frequencies to and from South Africa, and is due to be flying from Cape Town daily in July.
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In September, South Africa will have its first direct flights, on a triangular route that takes in both Cape Town and Johannesburg, to the effective capital city of the European Union, Brussels.

The Western Cape government investment organisation Wesgro said the airline will have two scheduled flights to Cape Town in September, two weeks after Air Belgium’s CEO first revealed plans for a South African route.

Chinese aviation logistics group Hongyuan injected the equivalent of some R300 million into Air Belgium this year, allowing it to secure the planes to expand its limited, holiday-passenger service.

Two-way passenger data showed that Brussels was historically the biggest European market for Cape Town not served with a direct route, Wesgro said, with passengers connecting either via major European hubs such as Paris or Amsterdam, or via more far-flung hubs such as Dubai.

Air Belgium is currently offering flights, starting in mid-September, at around €310 each way to Johannesburg, and around €330 each way to Cape Town, making for roughly R5,000 for each leg of a return flight.

The flights are scheduled to take advantage of the annual migration of Europeans seeking warmer climes as the northern hemisphere winter sets in, something Air Belgium does for those heading to the Dominican Republic, Mauritius, and the Caribbean islands of Curaçao and Bonaire.

Meanwhile, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines this week said it was increasing the frequency of its flights between Cape Town and Amsterdam, and would be flying daily from 11 July.

It was seeing  greater demand for seats to Cape Town, “which remains popular with tourists”, KLM said.

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