- United Airlines opened ticket sales for their new direct air service between Washington Dulles Airport and Cape Town International Airport
- Launching on 17 November, the service will operate three times per week, complimenting the year-round Newark/New York service that is already flying
- The new route is expected to generate R523-million worth of direct tourism spend for the Western Cape in the first year of operation
Cape Town Air Access welcomes the announcement by United Airlines of their direct, non-stop service between Washington Dulles Airport and Cape Town International Airport. The route positions United as the first carrier to provide a nonstop, roundtrip service from Washington, D.C. the capital of the United States, to Cape Town, with the tickets for the route available to purchase from yesterday.
This has been made possible due to the United States and South African governments agreeing in principle to increase the bilateral frequency allowance between the two countries. The original framework of 21 frequencies per week has been increased to 23, meaning that United Airlines will be able to operate three times per week from Washington. The route remains subject to final government approval by the South African Department of Transport however, the inaugural flight is scheduled for 17 November 2022.
The new route will operate alongside their current Newark/New York - Cape Town service which also operates three times per week, year-round. This route has already contributed generously to the economic recovery of the Western Cape, particularly the local tourism and hospitality sectors. With the new route on the horizon, it is expected that a further R523-million worth of direct tourism spend will be driven into the province within the airlines’ first year of operation.
“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 Alliances.
“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 U.S. to Cape Town along with connectivity to the broader region,” he adds.
Mark Maclean, Regional General Manager at Cape Town International Airport (ACSA) commented: “We welcome the news of United’s direct route from Washington. The US has historically been CPTs third largest international market based on two-way passenger volumes so having an additional route and added capacity into the US, especially their capital city is very promising for Cape Town.”
“The US was our biggest unserved destination when the Air Access Project started. Negotiating a direct route was a key objective for the project within the first few years. It is most rewarding to see yet another direct route become a reality, and we welcome United Airlines announcement. With a strong relationship already in place between ourselves and the US under the Trade and Investment Promotion Partnership – we look forward to both our regions mutually benefitting from the positive spin-off to be garnered through the increased frequency and direct route,” says Wrenelle Stander, CEO, Wesgro & Official Spokesperson for Cape Town Air Access.
Two-way passenger volumes for the first quarter of 2022 exceeded 27 000, which was a 51% recovery when compared to the same quarter in 2019. Based on previous route introductions, it is estimated that a new direct service results in a passenger stimulus of at least 25% for Cape Town International Airport.
Alderman James Vos, Mayoral Committee Member for Economic Growth: “Direct flights provide rapid worldwide transportation connectivity that makes it essential for global business, as it generates economic growth, creates jobs, and facilitates international trade and tourism. As the City of Cape Town government, we proudly fund the Air Access Initiative, with the mission of landing more flights in Cape Town. As our connections expand, so too does our economic opportunities. I’m excited with the 80 percent recovery in aviation which proves the power of partnerships coming from our tourism and trade promotion.”
Beyond the positive tourism spin-off, there are further gains to be had with increased cargo opportunities. A total of 2 384 metric tonnes of cargo was transported between the Western Cape and the US in 2021, which was a 50% recovery when compared to 2019. Between January and March of this year, 686 metric tonnes of air cargo was transported between the two regions, a 74% recovery when compared to the first quarter of 2019.
“Direct flights from the US capitol to Cape Town is great news for our tourism and hospitality sector in the Western Cape. It will make it easier for visitors to come to the Western Cape and will only increase our standing as a destination of choice for the US market. It also means more opportunity for trade through air cargo. Overall, it means more jobs in the Western Cape, which is precisely what we need right now,” said Provincial Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, Mireille Wenger.
United will fly a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft on this new route, which features 48 lie-flat, United Polaris® business class seats, 21 United Premium Plus® seats and 188 economy seats. All seats are equipped with seatback on-demand entertainment to help customers pass the time and relax during their travels.