Richards Bay Airport will reopen to Airlink flights in the middle of September after being closed for more than 20 months. When South Africa lifted its hard lockdown and domestic travel resumed, the airport was given the go-ahead to reopen.

Richards Bay Airport, the primary gateway to KwaZulu-export Natal’s hub, has been closed since the South African government banned domestic travel due to the pandemic.

However, the reopening was postponed, first for five months and then until May of 2021. Airlink cited declining demand as a result of the ongoing economic downturn, as well as ongoing safety concerns from the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA), as the primary reasons for the airport’s extended closure in 2021.

In January 2021, the CEO of Airlink described the situation as a “classic Catch-22,” implying that no reasonable solution exists.

At one point, there was enough traffic on the route to justify three flights per day. Level 3 Covid-19 restrictions mean that only 20% of the usual number of people are permitted to be present at the coal terminal, Richards Bay’s industrial heart.”

Because of these constraints, there was less demand for flights to Richards Bay, and the airport was unable to accommodate scheduled passenger flights because it lacked the emergency services required by SACAA.

Airlink has finally announced that regular flights between Johannesburg and Richards Bay will resume on September 19—20 months later than originally planned.

Foster emphasized the importance of Richards Bay to the economies of both KwaZulu-Natal and South Africa in a statement released on Friday.

According to the article, “air connectivity plays a critical role in driving business and investment in the coal-terminus town and the industries it supports, and is essential to the town’s viability and development.” After a brief hiatus, we hope to resume passenger flights from Richards Bay in order to contribute to the region’s development and economic growth.”

Flights to and from Richards Bay will be operated by a jetstream 41 turboprop aircraft with a seating capacity of 29 passengers.

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