US carriers confirm new, nonstop Cape Town flights to start this summer

Business Insider SA
(Photo by Horacio Villalobos#Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)
(Photo by Horacio Villalobos#Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)
  • United States carriers Delta and United fought for new, nonstop flights to Cape Town. Thanks to bilateral engagements between America and South Africa's departments of transport, both airlines got what they wanted.
  • Delta confirmed that it would start flying between Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Cape Town International Airport on 17 December.
  • United will start flying between Washington Dulles Airport and Cape Town a month earlier, on 17 November.
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Cape Town will soon welcome new, nonstop flights from Washington DC and Atlanta, strengthening already popular tourism links between South Africa and the United States (US).

The battle between two competing US carriers for new flights to Cape Town has ended, with both getting an equal share thanks to an agreement reached with South Africa's department of transport.

US carriers Delta and United spent the first half of the year fighting for the last remaining flight frequencies available under the existing bilateral agreement with South Africa.

See also | US tourists not only surged 286% in May, those coming are also spending a lot more

Both airlines applied for three nonstop weekly flights to the Mother City, with Delta flying from Atlanta and United from Washington DC. Only four slots were available, forcing both airlines to argue their respective cases to the US department of transport (DOT).

Following recommendations from the US DOT to its South African counterparts to "negotiate an exchange of extrabilateral opportunities", it was announced, in mid-July, that both Delta and United's applications would be granted.

Delta, which already operates flights to Johannesburg and recently received approval to add Cape Town as a destination on a triangular route with Atlanta, confirmed its new flight path on Friday. Nonstop flights between Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Cape Town International Airport will start on 17 December.

Delta flights to Cape Town will operate on Monday, Thursday, and Saturday on the Airbus A350-900.

United Airlines, which already operates Newark to Johannesburg and Newark to Cape Town, will start its new flights to the Mother City sooner than Delta. Three weekly nonstop flights between Washington Dulles Airport and Cape Town will start on 17 November using the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.

"We are thrilled to further expand our Africa offering with this first-ever direct link between Washington DC and Cape Town," said Patrick Quayle, United's senior vice president of global network planning and alliance, in a statement on Thursday.

"These new flights build upon our existing year-round New York/Newark to Cape Town service – together, they'll provide a near-daily pattern from the US to Cape Town along with connectivity to the broader region through our Airlink partnership."

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