National carrier Eritrean Airlines has launched its Cape Town route, PANA reported Tuesday.
The flight from Asmara, the Eritrean capital, landed at 4.40pm (local time) on Monday to a traditional water canon salute from Airports Company South Africa, Cape Town International Airport’s Aerodrome Rescue and Fire-Fighter department.
The flight then departed for Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport en-route Eritrea at 5.40pm.
The airline will be offering four weekly direct and indirect flights between Cape Town and Asmara in Eritrea.
The four weekly frequencies arrive Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays with its departures to Esmara scheduled for the same days.
The airline will be using an Airbus 319 aircraft with a seating capacity of 148 passengers, configured with eight seats in business class and 140 seats in the economy class.
“This is the third regional airline to join the Cape Town International Airport family after Air Namibia and TAAG Angola Airlines,” said Airport spokesperson Deborah Francis.
On Mondays and Fridays, Eritrean Airlines will fly directly to Cape Town from Esmara with a refuelling stopover in Entebbe, Uganda, and on its departure leg travel via OR Tambo International Airport.
On Wednesdays and Sundays it will start with OR Tambo then Cape Town and a return flight direct to Esmara with a refuelling stop in Uganda.
“This is good news for the airport and the region especially as we saw a 17.14% increase in our regional arrivals passenger numbers for the month of March and an 18.26% increase in the month of April compared to the same period in 2011,” she said.
The month of March also saw 808,104 arriving and departing passengers, a slight difference from the 813,000 passengers processed in December 2012.
The international arrivals remain strong with a 14, 57% growth from March 2011, added Francis.
At the end of 2011, the airport also welcomed two international airlines, Air France and Edelweiss Air from Switzerland.