Delta asks for flights to Cape Town again – after South African government blocks latest offer


(Photo by James D. Morgan/Getty Images)

  • Delta Air Lines wants to operate nonstop flights from its Atlanta hub to Cape Town.
  • That’s according to an official request filed Thursday with the US Department of Transportation.
  • The carrier has struggled to include Cape Town among its destinations, last served in 2009, due to delays and an ultimate refusal from the South African Department of Transport.
  • The refusal, which tied the airline to Johannesburg only, was criticized by the US government and the Western Cape.
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US Delta Air Lines has reapplyed for flights from Atlanta to Cape Town after South Africa‘s Department of Transport previously rejected the route.

Delta Air Lines currently operates direct flights between Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg. This route was reinstated in the second half of 2021, following the easing of pandemic-related travel restrictions.

Part of Delta’s planned return to South Africa included flights to Cape Town. These flights would be part of a triangular route with Johannesburg and Atlanta, but the request was ultimately rejected by the South African Department of Transport.

The controversial rejection – apparently linked to concerns about competition with national carriers – sparked a tit-for-tat response from the US government. The US Department of Transportation, citing the Delta debacle, rescinded the co-terminal rights previously granted to South African Airways (SAA) in June 2021.

The decision to refuse Delta Air Lines flights to Cape Town was fiercely criticized by the Western Cape governmentwho argued that the Department of Transport’s decision had a negative impact on the province’s tourism sector at a time when, beleaguered by the pandemic, it needed all the support it could get.

Delta Air Lines has requested nonstop flights to Cape Town – alongside its request for the triangular route – from the US Department of Transportation. The application documents, seen by Business Insider South Africa, were filed on Thursday, February 17.

The airline has requested three flights per week between Atlanta and Cape Town, which will be operated by 306-seat Airbus A350-900s. It plans to start this route on November 18, 2022, if no further travel restrictions are imposed by then.

The last time Delta Air Lines operated scheduled flights to Cape Town was in 2009, with a stopover in Dakar, Senegal.

“In parallel, Delta is still seeking approval for an Atlanta-Johannesburg-Cape Town-Atlanta triangle, routed from the South African Department of Transport to provide flexibility for Atlanta-Johannesburg-Atlanta flights currently in service,” the airline noted in its statement. request.

“The proposed service will increase travel and commerce opportunities, boost the economies of Atlanta and the region, create jobs and provide benefits for travelers across the United States”

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