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Watch: United Airlines’ nonstop NY/Cape Town service takes off

New route set to bolster tourism and trade between the US and SA.
United Airlines' Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner landed at Cape Town International Airport on Monday. The new seasonal service will operate until March 25 next year. Image: Supplied

Chicago-headquartered United Airlines’ first-ever nonstop route between New York and Cape Town is now in service, with the inaugural flight landing at Cape Town International Airport (CTIA) on Monday evening.

The seasonal service will operate three times a week between Newark Liberty International Airport in New York and CTIA, and will run until March 25 for its first season. United is operating a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft with a capacity to seat 252 passengers on the route.

Watch: NY/Cape Town service takes off

“We are excited to inaugurate our nonstop seasonal service between Cape Town and our New York/Newark hub,” said Bob Schumacher, United’s regional director for sales.

“Our new flight will not only improve the current journey time between the two cities by more than four hours, it also strengthens our international route network and provides customers in South Africa with over 80 nonstop connections from New York/Newark to other destinations across the United States, Canada, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean,” he added.

Read: Rising Cape Town dam levels to buoy agriculture and tourism

Cape Town Executive Mayor Dan Plato hailed the new route. “Cape Town is a world-class city and this direct flight positions us as an attractive entry point into the rest of the continent. The local tourism and business sectors will greatly benefit from this as it allows us to showcase the diverse services and experiences that the city offers visitors from the United States,” he said.

Plato thanked United Airlines for implementing the route and paid credit to the team at Cape Town Air Access – a public-private partnership led by Wesgro, the Western Cape’s trade, investment and tourism promotion agency – for their hard work in securing the high-profile new service

Wesgro said in a statement that securing the nonstop flight demonstrates the power of public-private sector partnership and cooperation. The agency’s CEO Tim Harris said he is grateful to those organisations that participated in making the new route possible.

“Five years ago, when we started the Cape Town Air Access project, we identified the United States route as a priority and have worked since then to land it. The USA is in the top three most important markets for the Cape across investment, exports and tourism,” he noted.

Other partners in the initiative include the City of Cape Town, the Western Cape Government, Airports Company South Africa (Acsa), Cape Town Tourism and SA Tourism. It is supported by private sector players such as Naspers, Tsogo Sun, Investec, Oasis Holdings, the V&A Waterfront and the Leeu Collection.

According to Wesgro, Cape Town Air Access has succeeded in landing 16 new routes and 22 route expansions since its inception in 2015 – adding more than 750 000 one-way seats into the city.

It is estimated that the additional routes have helped contribute an additional R6 billion in tourism spend to the province’s economy.

“For Acsa, the direct air link between Cape Town and New York/Newark is a significant milestone in its continuing drive to increase South Africa’s air connectivity,” says Acsa acting CEO Fundi Sithebe.

“CTIA has experienced a positive growth trajectory and this is directly attributed [to] the focused collaboration with stakeholders … We have enjoyed considerable success with these air access initiatives in recent years. However, securing the commitment by United is especially pleasing not only because of the distances involved but also because of the incredible potential for tourist and business visitors from the US,” she adds.

Read: New York direct flights a boon for Cape Town tourism

The new route comes at the right time, especially since the major growth CTIA experienced between 2015 and 2018 has slowed down, with a decline in international passengers for three consecutive months from July this year. Moneyweb reported last month that, according to Acsa stats, CTIA’s growth on the international passenger side for the year to end-September stood at 2.4%.

Dubai-based airline Emirates reduced its three daily flights to Cape Town to two per day earlier this year.

The collapse of UK travel agency Thomas Cook in September will also have an impact on the airport as it ran a seasonal summer service between Cape Town and London for several years.

However, there is a strong presence of European airlines operating direct routes to the Mother City, including British Airways, Air France and Lufthansa-owned Eurowings. These airlines are expected to pick-up some of this business.

Read: Tourism as usual for Western Cape following collapse of Thomas Cook




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It should be noted that the flights are not to New York, but Newark, New Jersey – which is across the river from New York City.

Not relevant. Exactly the same distance (18 miles) and time from JFK and from Newark airport to center of NY (e.g. 5th Avenue)

It is relevant if you’re planning on catching a connection from JFK!

Well it’s not correct. If it’s not in New York State, how can the say Cape Town to New York. Just seems a little deceitful to me.

For a few dollars ater landing at Newark Airport it is literally a 15min bus or train ride using the New Jersey Transit company anytime of the day or night right to the Centre of NYC. The schedules run spot on time and drop you off in the middle of Manhattan at the NY Port Auhority bus terminal.

Nitpicking Wallies : Newark obviously serves New York (in fact better so than JFK): Businessasusual would Maybe like to rename Cpt International
as does not land in Adderley Street !!

Has anyone tried finding this flight on United’s website?
Only gives me flights between CPT and Newark, NJ with stopovers.

Why are we interested in improving tourism and trade with the evil US? I thought that they are the big bad wolf, here to strip Africans of African-ess. How long are we going to stand for the hypocrisy of our locally flavored politicians?

Good point!

Once the NHI is in full swing, this extra route will handsomely serve some ANC connected elite to allow easier visit to a healthcare facility in the US.

(…almost like Mad Bob that had no faith in Zim, but visited Singapore).

Perhaps you’ve never had the encouter of landing on a plane that purports to go some place and end up in an unexpected place. Take for example Washington (Dulles) and BWP (which is Maryland, but is advertized with the momicker ‘Washington’), you’d have to drive for more than an hour and try to avoid pervasive and ubiquitous toll roads, and possibly spend a night in a hotel to catch a connecting flight! That’s not the same or as simple – try getting into New York at pick hour traffic, or out for that matter.

Maybe it should be renamed Newark-Nyanga (just because it is not landing in or on Adderley street, hey!!!?)

End of comments.





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