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With 20 scheduled flights to East London International Airport (ELS) each day; there are options provided by Kulula, SA Express and Airlink. Because it's a less-flown route, expect smaller aircraft and bumpier flights. Use the flight bookings tool on the left to compare airfares and make a reservation with the cheapest airline.
4 February 2015 : Tourism in the Buffalo City is in decline. There were 4.9% less passengers on flights to EL in December 2014 than in December 2013.
East London Airport is situated to the south-west of East London (so many directions in one sentence!), close to the R72 road along which passengers can drive from the airport into the city (see map below).
There are no trains from the airport, and most people hire a vehicle to get around, as public transport isn't great. Car rental options at East London Airport are Avis, Budget, Europcar, First Car Rental, Hertz & Tempest Car Hire. The airport is situated close to the city; and so for instance it takes only 11 minutes to travel the 9km from to the Protea Hotel: head east towards Settlers Way and continue towards the R72, turn right onto Currie Street and first left and you are there.
As the crow flies East London Airport is 766km from Cape Town International Airport, 863km from Johannesburg's OR Tambo International Airport, 492km from Durban's King Shaka International Airport and Port Elizabeth Airport is the closest to it (231km away). The IATA code for East London Airport is ELS and the ICAO code is FAEL.
Routes to East London on which there are regular scheduled flights are:
Kulula flights to East London from Johannesburg
SA Express flights to East London from Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg (there are no South African Airways flights to East London).
Airlink & Blu Crane operate flights to East London from Port Elizabeth
Blu Crane flies from George to East London
Before it went into liquidation, 1time used to fly to East London from both Cape Town and Johannesburg; and for a while after 1time stopped flying and before Kulula commenced flights, East London was without a low cost carrier.
There are no international flights to East London, but South African Airways, SA Express and Kulula link East London with Johannesburg from which there are a plethora of international flights.
East London Airport is operated by the Airports Company of South Africa. For flight information phone 086-727-7888. Phone 043-706-0304 for the administrative switchboard.
East London Airport was the inspiration of a Lieutenant Alistair Miller, who asked the town council in 1927 to help build an airport in Woodbrook. A new airport was built in 1944 in Collondale, and then in 1965 an airport was built on the spot of the present airport (2km east of the 1944 airport), and named Ben Schoeman (after the then Minister ofTransport). In 1994 Ben Schoeman Airport was renamed East London Airport.
Sunrise in East London. Photo credit : Selina Vickerman.
A couple of years back my husband was asked to go work in East London for 2weeks. His boss booked him on the 1st flight out, and we were more excited than him because he was the first one in the family to fly, something we could only dream of :) We arrived at the airport way too early just in case he missed his flight. Upon arrival we followed someone that looked like he knew what to do and booked him and his belongings in, we went for coffee and almost forgot about time with our eyes fixed on every plane that left and landed. Then I heard someone saying something about my husband over the intercom and every time I asked him aren't the people calling you he would reply "no why would they", until we heard loud and clear will mr ****** please board the plane, as you are delaying the flight. Everyone rushed downstairs kissed and waved as he disappeared behind the doors. We stood for a while and decided we would go back upstairs to see the plane leave. We waited and waited and waited for the plane to leave but the plane just stood there. I rushed downstairs to the desk and asked the lady when the plane to East London would leave. She looked at me shocked and horrified, then looked at her watch and said the plane just Landed in East London. We had a good laugh, and yes there are still people today that are in the same position as we were. Our airports don't cater for the first time flyers (smiling). Submitted by Jacqui on 22 May 2013.
27 November 2013: Every year I take my daughter with me to East London. She is currently six years old. I was born in East London, and moved to cape Town in 2006. Every years end I take a bus trip down, flights are just too costly as I'm a single parent with three kids. I am from a family of ten, yes, ten. Six girls, four boys. We were brought up so closely and we lost our dad and I was only 16 back then, I'm now 42. So mom and my eldest brother and sister had to assist with the siblings. It was not an easy life, anyway I return home every year because I miss them all so much. I constantly miss my siblings, my mom who is 72 years old, and tons of nephews and nieces who all look forward to seeing usevery december. My dad used to take us camping every year, we used to practically pack up the house and go to the beach. We pitched two huge tents and stayed on the beach for two weeks. It was awesome. So up until now we still love the beach. Unfortunately in today's time one cannot go camping,as by time you wake up in the morning you will be on the floor tentless, foodless, clothesless! So we plan our outing the day before, after checking the weather forecast. We pack blankets, towels, food, snacks, fruit, juice, the works We leave home early in the morning and we have breakfast on the beach, then of course the kids can't wait for the sun to rise and they want to swim. I sit with my siblings, we chat, we laugh, we reminisce about the good old days. All the kids have so much fun in the sun, rolling in the sand. We play ball games or cricket, or two or three of us go for a little run along the shore. We make the most of our days together, we all love the beach. We also make trips to the museum which the kids love, we visit malls, and the aquarium, which is on Eastern Beach, is awesome. Holidays with my family just rock my world, they are some of my best memories. Munira Mahomed
18 November 2013 : Earlier this year my family and I had the privilege of visiting the Eastern Cape, East London and Cintsa in particular. What a perfect hidden gem of south Africa. We had fantastic weather, beautiful beaches, very affordable accommodation, great service and the easiest, most fun family holiday ever. No traffic to talk of, and such friendly people wherever we went. Cintsa is a whole new paradise that I could talk about for a lengthy time, I went kite surfing and kids played in the waves at a most spectacular beach. The meal we had at the restaurant there was of a very high standard and everyone we were in contact with was friendly and proud to be of service. Had fantastic vacation to a place that is well worth the visit – we will be back. Dave Flemmer
12 November 2013 : I have Cintsa mouth and Kei Mouth as my favorable holiday destination in East London. I was at Cintsa Mouth in 1993 and 1998 - I enjoyed nice food, especially crayfish, on both occasions. Then I was in Kei Mouth in 2000 and 2007 and it was also nice. Down there it is so beautiful and I even went to Trennery’s resort which is on the other side of the Kei River in a place called Qolora and the Centane/Butterworth towns. I really like the natural beaches of East London/Transkei. Mike Mbuto
It matters not an iota where in the world you are (New York, Tokyo or Port Elizabeth) - use the flight bookings tool on the top left of this page to compare the prices of all airlines and find cheap flights to East London - remember that often the trick to getting best value is by being flexible with your dates. Finally, before we sign out on this page, please remember to email email@example.com a review of your flight to East London.