Virgin Atlantic announces return of services to Cape Town from London

Virgin Atlantic has announced the return of services to Cape Town from London Heathrow starting November 5, 2022 with a new daily service.

The new winter service runs until March 24, 2023 and will complement the existing year-round daily service to Johannesburg. The service will operate on a Boeing 787-9 with fares starting from £711 economy return. The aircraft boasts three classes, Upper Class, Premium and Economy.

Known for its natural beauty, as well as its rich culture and heritage, Cape Town has something for everyone to enjoy. Home to Robben Island, travellers can visit the prison where Nelson Mandela was held, which is now a living museum. The more adventurous can ride the cable cars to Table Mountain’s flat top for sweeping views of the city, and the more laid-back may consider the Cape Winelands, the country’s top region for wine tasting tours.

Juha Jarvinen, Chief Commercial Officer at Virgin Atlantic commented: ‘We’re incredibly excited to return to the fabulous city of Cape Town with daily services from November.

‘Although a little later than we we’d have liked due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the move reflects the fact that travel is recovering and global demand for holidays to sunny, premium destinations is returning at pace.

‘We’re expecting a high proportion of leisure travellers on this route who will rightly be taking advantage of the winter sun, exploring the world-renowned wine regions and soaking up the rich culture this incredible country has to offer.’

The Cape Town flights are on sale now, return Economy fares start from £711 per person, Premium from £1,318 per person and Upper Class from £3,454 per person.

Virgin Atlantic enhances South African flying programme following Red List removal

Virgin Atlantic announced on Thursday October 14 that it is expanding its portfolio of flights to South Africa, following the country’s removal from the Red List.

Last week, bookings to the region soared by 150 percent in 24 hours as a result of the UK Government’s updated travel advice.

From November 8, flights from London Heathrow to Johannesburg will increase from three times a week to a daily service. Virgin Atlantic stated that as South Africa’s capital city, not only does Johannesburg offer a gateway to some of the best safaris in the world, but its warm climate provides the perfect escape for Brits seeking some winter sun.

Customers travelling in the airline’s Upper Class cabin, as well as Gold Card members, will also be able to take advantage of Virgin Atlantic’s award-winning Clubhouse at O.R Tambo international airport, which it says offers a relaxing space with tasty food and tempting cocktails.

The relaunch of the airline’s Heathrow to Cape Town service is also being brought forward, following a huge surge in customer demand. From December 17, Virgin Atlantic will fly three times weekly to the destination famed for its scenery and its world-famous wine region.

Juha Jarvinen, Virgin Atlantic chief commercial officer, commented: ‘We know there’s pent up customer demand for travel to South Africa, which is reflected in our recent bookings surge, so I’m thrilled we can offer our customers more services to both Johannesburg and Cape Town.

‘We’re expecting a high proportion of leisure travellers on these routes, taking advantage of the winter sun, the safaris and of course, the world-famous wine region. We can’t wait to fly our customers safely to their South African adventures once more.’

Virgin Atlantic’s South African services will both operate on the airline’s state of the art Boeing 787-9, with 31 Upper Class, 35 Premium and 192 Economy Delight, Classic and Light seats. Flights are available to book now from £478 per person return to Johannesburg and Cape Town services go on sale from October 16 from £578 per person return.

British Airways to fly The British And Irish Lions to South Africa this summer

British Airways has said that it will fly the 37-strong British & Irish Lions squad to South Africa on June 27 for the much awaited Lions Tour.

The Lions’ tour in Johannesburg will see the best players from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales embarking on an eight-game Tour of South Africa, including three Tests against World Champions, the Springboks.

Both The British & Irish Lions and Springboks will be carried across the country to matches by British Airways’ franchise partner, Comair.

The team will be heading directly to Johannesburg on a charter flight from Edinburgh, following The Vodafone Lions 1888 Cup clash against Japan at BT Murrayfield Stadium on Saturday 26 June at 3pm.

Sean Doyle, British Airways’ Chairman and CEO, said: ‘We are honoured to be flying The British & Irish Lions to South Africa ahead of their tour. After a difficult year, we look forward to uniting the nation through sport and cheering them on. From everyone at British Airways, we wish them the best of luck and hope to carry them home as champions.’

Ben Calveley, Managing Director for The British & Irish Lions, said: ‘We are delighted to be flying with British Airways for the 2021 Castle Lager Lions Series. We know the squad and management will receive a warm welcome from British Airways staff and enjoy a safe, comfortable journey to South Africa, landing in Johannesburg ready to take on the world champions.’

British Airways is reinforcing its commitment to sport as the airline is currently the Principal Partner to Twickenham Stadium, Official Airline Partner to England Rugby and has been the Official Airline Partner to Team GB and Paralympics GB since 2008.

The British & Irish Lions have toured South Africa on 13 previous occasions, since the first Tour in 1891.

South African Airways introduces A330-300 on Johannesburg – London route

South African Airways (SAA) has said that it will introduce the new A330-300 on the London route from March 2018, and will also adjust frequencies on the route to a single daily service.

As part of its network optimisation plan, effective from April 20, 2018, SAA will operate a single daily flight from Johannesburg to London Heathrow replacing the double daily service operating on the route currently.

‘We have decided to focus on those areas of our business that will enhance our efficiencies, bring more value to our customers and produce improved overall performance of the airline. Network optimisation is one such area that can contribute towards containing our costs and we introduced some initiatives that must yield dividends to return the business to commercial sustainability in the shortest time possible,’ said SAA CEO, Vuyani Jarana. ‘We have also decided to upgrade the service operating between Johannesburg and London Heathrow to the new Airbus A330-300 with effect from Sunday, 25 March 2018. This will afford customers a significantly improved on-board Business and Economy product, with state-of-the-art technology, increased comfort and capacity,’ added Jarana.

The new Airbus A330-300 offers the latest technology, are eco-friendly , quieter, equipped with advanced avionics and navigation systems, and have Rolls-Royce Trent engines, resulting in lower fuel burn and in turn, lower carbon emissions. SAA took delivery of five new A330-300 aircraft last year.

The A330-300s offer more Business Class seats than any aircraft in the SAA fleet currently. In total, the aircraft has capacity for 249 passengers, with 46 in Business Class and 203 in Economy Class. Seating in Business Class cabins is in a staggered 1-2-1 configuration, offering all customers a forward facing, lie-flat seat, increased privacy and direct access to the aisle. SAA has also introduced an app where customers can download additional entertainment before their flight.

Seating in the Economy cabin will be in the 2-4-2 configuration. Economy Class on the A330-300 feature a 10.1′ high-resolution screen, individual USB charging ports, and access to shared PC power points.

South African Airways Reorganises Long Distance Services, Cuts down London to Cape Town Flights

South African Airways (SAA), a South Africa-based airline, has terminated its service to London, from Cape Town, in South Africa.

The airline is offering flights to London only from its Johannesburg hub, effective from August 16, 2012. The airline has recently reorganised its long-haul routes for the more efficient management of aircraft, and will be expanding its twice-daily services between Johannesburg and London Heathrow airport by 13 percent, by using larger aircraft on the route.

Theunis Potgieter, the airline general manager commercial, said, ‘SAA is redeploying its capacity to routes experiencing expanding demand as part of our larger strategy for growth and increased efficiency within the airline. As an airline which has a key role in the development and support of the economy and tourism across South Africa, we are constantly working to ensure the optimal use of our resources in the national interest, for example by ensuring additional connectivity between the BRICS partners Brazil, China, India, and South Africa, and to an increasing number of African destinations.

A thorough analysis of the route made it clear that we could use our aircraft more profitably elsewhere while continuing to ensure excellent business and tourism links between the Western Cape and the UK with our significant capacity via Johannesburg. It is also clear that we would lose money on the direct route in future, whereas it is possible for us to operate more optimally between Cape Town and London via our Johannesburg hub.’

The airline has also been offering direct flights between Johannesburg and Beijing, China, since February this year, and expanded its service to Mumbai, India, in May. The airline is currently offering new, non-stop services to New York, reducing its flying time on the route by 90 minutes.

Ulusaba Private Game Reserve Announces New Offers

Ulusaba Private Game Reserve, a luxury retreat located on the border of the Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve in South Africa, is offering new rates for its guests.

The resort, owned by Virgin Limited Edition, a collection of award-winning luxury retreats by Virgin Hotels Group Ltd, is offering a complimentary night for guests that book a stay until December 22, 2012. Guests may book deals of four nights for the price of three, or five nights for the price of four; or even seven nights for the price of five at this resort, which is situated at the centre of the game reserve.

The room rates at the safari commence from A$570 per person per night, based on double occupancy in the Safari Lodge, and are inclusive of accommodation, all meals and drinks, and twice daily game drives. Children can stay free of charge, until the age of 11, during 2012, and 2013.

The resort offers hospitality to its guests from a team of 119 staff, mostly from local communities, offering authentic African hospitality, as well as qualified ranger and tracker experience for those wishing to go out on photographic expeditions inside the Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve, which is a part of the Kruger National Park in South Africa.

The photographic safaris, which are conducted by knowledgeable members of the resort management, include photographic workshops with experienced game photographers and trackers, driving inside the game reserve in search of photographic opportunities, and accommodation and meals. Rates for safaris are priced from $661 per person per night, on a minimum stay of three nights.

With the World Cup Over, Tourists Continue to Visit South Africa

South Africa’s estimated £2.6 billion investment in infrastructure and media for the recent World Cup is paying off. While the games are over and the country’s stadiums significantly more empty (albeit less noisy) the country is experiencing a continued period of high tourism. More travellers arrived in South Africa during the first seven months of 2010 than any year before it, data shows.

It’s easy to point to the World Cub for the country’s success, but doing so ignored the huge amount of long-term planning that went into South Africa’s investments. As one of Africa’s most stable and developed nations, South Africa has immense potential as a major tourism destination. If the World Cup is the ultimate pre-show display, it’s the next decade that will be South Africa’s feature show.

And by all accounts, the nation is up and ready for the challenge. Blessed with an immense variety of cultural attractions and natural areas, South Africa is one of few African nations that combines a close look at nature with accessibility. While the country’s safari culture is bested by its rivals to the north, it’s difficult to fault the country’s combination of Western accessibility and African style.

It’s certainly a healthy transition from South Africa’s past. Although the country still has numerous social issues and a severe HIV problem, it’s turned its ‘crime-ridden’ reputation on its head in a way similar to that seen in Colombia. Once regarded as the world’s most dangerous city, Bogota is now one of the continent’s most popular destinations for North American adventure tourists.

Will the multi-billion pound investment pay off? It seems likely. As travel industry operators know, the greatest barrier to international travel tends to be reputation and perception. With South Africa taking steps to shed its previous ‘violent’ image, we may see a continued surge in travel for decades.