Posted on: 26 February 2018
Constructed to replace Matsapha Airport and enhance Swaziland’s position as a tourist destination, King Mswati III International Airport has been serving as a base for commercial flights since 2014.
Offering a gateway to the country’s game parks, including KwaZulu-Natal game reserve, Maputo, Kruger National Park and Victoria Falls, the airport was built with a capacity for 300,000 passengers per year.
However, the airport has been dubbed a “white elephant” by critics as to date the only passenger airline to serve the airport is Swaziland Airlink – a joint venture between the Swaziland Government and Airlink – which only operates daily flights between King Mswati III Airport and OR Tambo Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa.
There was hope that a new Swazi carrier, Swazi Airways, would commence operations in 2017 and would serve the airport as the country’s flag carrier operating flights across Africa and the Middle East. But Swazi Airways never took flight and was closed down in July 2017.
At the end of last year, SWACCA commissioned Lufthansa Consulting to conduct an Air Service Development Study to boost air services at the airport and develop it’s potential as a gateway to the kingdom.
Experts identified potential new routes and performed a detailed assessment of the market, gaining valuable insights into market opportunities for targeted airlines to launch new services to Swaziland.
Acting on the results of this study and together with Lufthansa Consulting, SWACCA has now contacted airlines in the region to develop routes from Manzini in the Kingdom of Swaziland to Cape Town and Durban in South Africa, as well as to Harare in Zimbabwe.
Solomon Dube, the director general, SWACCA said: “Swaziland is faced with a unique problem of having a very low demand for air traffic services. Currently very few travelelrs use air transport, yet the potential is very promising. People have the desire to fly, especially to and from the SADC region.”