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.

Cape Town short-listed for World Design Capital 2014

Cape Town has been short-listed for the World Design Capital 2014. From a team of 56 hopefuls, Cape Town now stands alongside just 2 other world cities – Dublin and Bilbao – in the race to earn the World Design Capital title.

Being named a World Design Capital bears a prestigious status. The title is designated biennially by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (CSID) to cities that are dedicated to using design for social, cultural, and economic development.

The announcement is pivotal for Cape Town’s reputation as a destination that has adopted design for transformation and social cohesion. Design as a principle for changing lives began with the end of apartheid and, increasingly, has become a guiding philosophy in the repositioning of Cape Town as a sustainable city, committed to a journey to improve the quality of life of all its citizens.

Cape Town Tourism greeted the news with great enthusiasm. Said CEO, Mariette du Toit-Helmbold: “This is a significant moment for Cape Town. Our shortlisting is an acknowledgement that design is an asset and a massive catalyst to align different sectors across the city with the ultimate goal of making Cape Town a more liveable city. Many people associate Cape Town with our beautiful natural surrounds, but design and innovation is leading the way for us to become a city that people are increasingly choosing to explore and discover from an urban context.

“More than half the world’s population lives in cities, and urban tourism dominates the international tourism landscape; over 70% of international tourism spend occurs in urban areas. Cities are incubators of innovation and ideas, epicenters of modern, living culture. Design is increasingly becoming a fundamental tool to ensure that Cape Town is more competitive, liveable, and efficient.

“Cape Town’s position as innovation hub sets us apart from any other South African and African city. As Cape Town moves into the future, we are convinced that it will become an ever more exciting place to live in, work in, and visit.

“Design is one of the fundamental pillars of the positioning of Cape Town as a place of inspiration. As with the World Cup, the bid process has given us a common platform to elevate Cape Town’s place on the world’s stage. We urge all Capetonians to get behind the bid. Citizen support and ownership will be key to the success of our bid.”

The story at the heart of Cape Town’s bid theme is about the city’s use of design to overturn the negative legacies of its colonial and apartheid past that saw design dividing people, disconnecting the city, and relegating both people of color and the urban poor to its fringes. This both denied these people equitable access to resources and opportunities, not least the opportunity of making their own contributions to a better city. It also made the country a pariah in the eyes of the world, and excluded it from many opportunities to engage in the globalizing economy.

At a handover ceremony of the World Design Capital 2014 Bid Book from City to Provincial hands, Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille commented on the accolade: “We are building an inclusive city, one based around 5 pillars: the opportunity city, the safe city, the caring city, the inclusive city, and the efficient city. Design is a tool for all of these areas of transformation. It is able to inform us as to how we can best provide employment and upliftment to improve the quality of life of our citizens.”

With predecessors such as Seoul, Korea (2010), and Helsinki, Finland (2012), proving that living design can, in fact, transform lives, Cape Town’s status as a top 3 contender shifts the city onto a new world platform and into a new era.

The Cape Town Partnership (who has been mandated to manage the bid), the city of Cape Town, and Cape Town Tourism will now host a delegation of World Design Capital 2014 judges in the city between July 10-24, 2011. An important stage in the process, this is when the content of the Bid Book and the city’s priorities, in terms of design as a tool for social transformation, will tread its proving ground. The World Design Capital 2014 winner will be announced on October 26, 2011.

Extracts from the Cape Town World Design Capital 2014 Bid Book are available on www.capetown2014.co.za and case studies for design in Cape Town can be viewed at www.capetown2014.co.za/gallery/ .

“Pick of the bunch” – Getaways for Gardeners

With next week’s Chelsea Flower Show completely sold out, all is not lost if you have been left without a ticket to London’s most prestigious event. Why not consider an early summer holiday and take some inspiration from some of the world’s most beautiful gardens and recreate that relaxed ‘holiday feel’ in your own back yard. So whether your greens fingered or not, take a look at these “blooming marvelous” Thomas Cook holidays to help inspire your very own exotic garden makeover.

South Africa – Cape Town

Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden

Whether for a casual stroll, more strenuous walk or lazy picnic, these gardens are a must-see for any visit to Cape Town. Nestled against the steep and rugged slopes of Table Mountain, they are a celebration of South African flora showcasing thousands of unique plants and flowers such as the Protea.

Thomas Cook Signature – 7 nights in Cape Town from £1,098 per person

Staying at 4 star Protea Hotel President in Cape Town on bed and breakfast, flying with South African Airways from London Heathrow – 26th June 2011.

Malta – Valetta

Barrakka Gardens

Popular with locals and visitors, Valetta’s Barrakka Gardens offer the best views over this city’s Grand Harbour. Beautifully manicured and dating back to 1661 when they were private gardens for the Italian knights, today they provide a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of Valetta’s busy streets. Divided into two parts, Upper Barrakka has various statues and monuments including one dedicated to Winston Churchill, and those visiting the gardens at noon or sunset can expect to hear the cannon that are fired as a salute dating back to British rule in Malta.

Thomas Cook – 7 nights in Malta from £344 per person

Staying at the 4 star Rivera Resort in Marfa Bay on bed and breakfast, departing London Gatwick on 21stJune 2011.

Morocco – Marrakech

Jardin Majorelle

Owned by Yves Saint Laurent until his death in 2008, these gardens are full of perfumed flowers, fruit trees, water and shade and Marrakchis consider them to be paradise on earth. This beautifully manicured oasis contains plants from the five continents in an enchanting framework.

Cresta – 3 nights in Marrakech from £269 per person

Staying at the 3 star Hotel Oudaya in Marrakech on bed and breakfast, flying with Easyjet from London Gatwick – 27th June 2011.

For more information please visit: www.thomascook.com