Business Insider Edition

Cape Town could finally be getting a direct flight to New York again this December – shaving four hours off travel time to the USA

Phillip de Wet , Business Insider SA
 Apr 16, 2019, 09:22 AM
United Airlines
United Airlines (David McNew/Getty Images)
  • United Airlines plans to launch a direct flight between Cape Town and Newark Liberty International Airport this December.
  • That would be the first time in a long time there has been a direct flight between Cape Town and the United States – and it would save travellers at least four hours.
  • The route is only due to run during the South African summer at first, but that could change.

By this December it hopes to be operating a direct flight between Cape Town International Airport and the Newark Liberty International Airport outside New York, United Airlines announced late on Monday.

The route would be United's first to the African continent – and would mark a return to direct travel between Cape Town and the United States.

The direct flight would take some 16 hours, shaving off at least four hours of travel time on the shortest flight United could find, and at least five hours on available commercial flights according to a Business Insider South Africa search.

At present travel time from Cape Town to New York can be more than 46 hours (for cheap flights with two stops in Europe) though most routes will take a total of between 21 and 25 hours – assuming no missed connections.

See also: One of the world’s longest flights may take off from Cape Town - and could have a crèche and a gym on board

The direct route to Cape Town is still subject to some government approvals.

United operates a fleet of 779 aircraft and operates hubs in American cities from San Francisco to Washington DC.

The Cape Town route is initially scheduled to be seasonal, available only during the South African summer between December and March. But the company told USA Today that, as with some of its other routes, it would consider a year-round service if there is sufficient demand.

The flight would depart from Cape Town just before 9PM three times a week, using a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner that can carry 252 passengers.

Cape Town organisations have been lobbying for a direct route to the USA for years.

In 1999 SAA ended a "lucrative" direct route between Cape Town and Miami as part of an agreement with Delta airlines, "infuriating" Cape Town tourism authorities. SAA later showed that its new route, via Johannesburg, had seen a huge rise in passengers because of more convenient connections.

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