South Africa has been an important market for Emirates, says the airline at WTM Africa 2024

An Emirates air hostess at the airline’s stand at World Travel Market Africa (WTM) 2024. Picture: Supplied

An Emirates air hostess at the airline’s stand at World Travel Market Africa (WTM) 2024. Picture: Supplied

Published Apr 12, 2024


“South Africa has been an important market for Emirates since the beginning of operations in 1995 and gone from strength to strength, providing flexible connections through Dubai to the wider world.”

Those were the words of Afzal Parambil, Emirates regional manager for southern Africa.

The airline is part of a group of travel and tourism industry professionals and service providers gathered at World Travel Market Africa (WTM) at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. The expo runs from April 10 –12.

As part of WTM Africa exhibitors, Emirates reflected on almost 30 years of operations to South Africa, developing tourism, investing in the market and connecting travellers from the region with more than 130 destinations across the world.

“WTM is an important moment for us to not only showcase Emirates world-class inflight experience but to connect, share insight and fortify relationships with stakeholders and contribute to South Africa’s thriving tourism industry,” said Parambil.

On-ground at WTM, Emirates is showcasing its exclusive and award-winning first-class suites, bringing its signature comfort and luxury closer to South African travellers.

The first-class suites offer passengers maximum privacy throughout their flight, akin to a hotel room in the cloud, with soft leather seats that recline into a full-flat bed.

WTM visitors will be able to experience the luxury travel experience, with cabin crew on hand to answer questions and provide tours of the suites.

The airline first began operations to South Africa on June 3, 1995, with a direct flight to Johannesburg and over the next three decades, it steadily expanded, adding flights to and from Cape Town and Durban and increasing frequencies to 42 weekly flights.

“In October 2011, Emirates deployed its flagship A380 to Johannesburg. Since the inaugural flight, Emirates has transported over 20 million passengers to and from South Africa, with popular destinations including Dubai, Thailand and India as well as European hotspots such as UK, France, the Netherlands and Germany,” said the airline.

The airline said it had established codeshare (the joint operation of an aircraft by two or more carriers) and interline (which allows an airline to sell services to a customer that are provided by another airline) agreements with four key partners including SAA, Airlink, Cemair and Safair as part of efforts to expand its reach across South Africa and other under-served African destinations.

Through these partnerships, Emirates has expanded its reach to almost 60 regional points in Africa.