Cape Town Air Access (CTAA) welcomes the announcement by United Airlines that they intend launching a new non-stop route between the US and Cape Town, from Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, New York.
If approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation, United’s service between New York/Newark and Cape Town will be operated with Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft featuring 48 seats in United Polaris business class, 88 seats in United Economy Plus and 116 seats in United Economy.
This will be a game-changer for Cape Town and the Western Cape, linking the Cape to the important North American market. It will not only boost tourism, but grow cargo and attract even more FDI into the Western Cape from US companies.
“We are always looking at ways to expand our industry-leading international route network to offer our customers more convenient options. We’re thrilled to announce the addition of Africa to our global route offering,” said Patrick Quayle, United’s vice president of International Network. “This new flight will provide customers with the only nonstop service between the United States and Cape Town.”
Newark Liberty International Airport, located in New Jersey, is one of four airports serving the New York metropolitan area. In 2017, the airport was the 6th busiest airport by international passenger traffic in the US. Just 16 miles (25km) from downtown Manhattan, Newark Airport provides quick access to the Big Apple and it’s commercial and cultural centres.
“This is a game-changer for our region. North America was one of the largest unserved markets for Cape Town and the Western Cape, with the USA ranked as the 3rd largest market for inbound passengers to Cape Town International Airport in 2017”, says Tim Harris, Wesgro CEO.
Deon Cloete, the Airport Manager of Cape Town International Airport, said, “the introduction of this new route not only provides a much-needed a link between the USA and Cape Town from a tourism perspective, but a direct flight, with an estimated four hour saving in travel time, will also mean an increase in business and investment opportunities.”
According to a study conducted by Grant Thornton, a direct flight to North America would add an estimated 24 000 passengers, which was 20% of the 2018 market. This would add an estimated R283 million in direct tourism spending to the Cape economy in the first year, with this set to increase by R425 million by 2021. It would see 890 jobs in the province in the first year of operation.
The flight will also see an increase in direct and indirect imports into the province, with cargo capacity contributing approximately R94 million in potential trade. It is also estimated to contribute R286 million to the Gross Geographic Product (GGP) and R144 million in direct Gross Value Add (GVA) to the Cape economy.
Between January 2003 and February 2017 a total of 76 Foreign Direct Investment projects were recorded from the United States to the Western Cape amounting to a total capital investment of USD1.9bn. During this period, a total of 7,510 jobs were created.
Western Cape Minister of Economic Opportunities, Beverly Schäfer, said: “We welcome this new route connecting the Western Cape and the United States, a key market for our province. The direct flight will drive growth in the tourism and business sectors, creating jobs and boosting local business tourism, which directly contributes to our Project Khulisa objectives. The Western Cape Government is proud to be part of the Cape Town Air Access initiative, which has helped land this new route.”
The Executive Mayor of the City of Cape Town, Dan Plato, also celebrated this major announcement. “Cape Town is a world-class city and home to an award-winning airport in Cape Town International Airport. I want to thank our Air access team who have worked hard to bring this flight to Cape Town. This direct flight positions our beautiful city as an attractive point of entry into Africa and allows us to showcase all that the city has to offer as we welcome visitors from the United States, both new and old. On behalf of the City of Cape Town, I thank United Airlines for the confidence they have shown in our city. ”
Mayoral Committee Member for Economic Opportunities and Asset Management, Alderman James Vos, said: “As a proud funder of the Air Access initiative, the City of Cape Town commends all the efforts that have contributed to landing this important development in the City’s aviation economy. Its impact will definitely have a positive effect on the local market, facilitating job creation as well as further economic opportunities.”
Sthembiso Dlamini, Acting CEO of South African Tourism, added: “Arrivals from the United States to South Africa have shown consistent growth year-on-year, solidifying its position as a key market, not only for the Western Cape, but for South Africa as a whole. South Africa saw close to 450 000 arrivals from North America in 2018 with the region representing 4% of total international travellers travelling to South Africa. Adding a direct connection to Cape Town will improve connectivity to the region and allow visitors to experience South Africa from a new viewpoint. With North America identified by SA Tourism for enhanced focus for the coming year, the United Airlines direct route from New York to Cape Town is great news.”
Cape Town Air Access is a partnership between the City of Cape Town, Western Cape Government, Wesgro, Cape Town Tourism, South African Tourism, Airports Company South Africa and private sector partners. To date, the CTAA initiative has helped land 8 new international airlines, 13 new direct routes and 19 route expansions, resulting in more than 1.5 million two-way seats being added into Cape Town International, boosting the local economy by R6 billion.