United Airlines won't do seasonal direct flights to Cape Town this year

United's seasonal direct service to Cape Town was to cover the peak leisure tourism season.
United's seasonal direct service to Cape Town was to cover the peak leisure tourism season.

Major US airline United Airlines has decided not to have its seasonal direct flights between Cape Town and Newark/New York this year.

"United Airlines will relaunch its seasonal winter service between Cape Town and New York/Newark for the 2021 [Northern Hemisphere] winter travel season. The airline looks forward to beginning a new, non-stop daily service between Johannesburg and New York/Newark on March 28, 2021," a spokesperson said on Wednesday.

United's seasonal direct service to Cape Town was to cover the peak leisure tourism season. So far, however, despite South Africa's borders reopening, tourism bodies and establishments have indicated that international visitor numbers remain minimal.

In the past United has indicated that it sees the planned new route between Johannesburg and New York opening up new opportunities for business and leisure travellers.

“Over the past few months, Cape Town Air Access has been in continuous contact with United Airlines. Looking at the current situation in the US, United decided not to fly this season as forward bookings were low due to uncertainty," says Wesgro CEO Tim Harris, who is also the spokesperson for Cape Town Air Access.

"United is committed to return to Cape Town next summer season, starting October 2021. Cape Town is a focus market for the airline, as they seek to grow in the next few years."

The Lufthansa Group offers direct flights between Cape Town and Zurich on SWISS, Cape Town and Vienna on Austrian Airlines and Cape Town to Frankfurt and Cape Town to Munich on Lufthansa.

Since the beginning of October, Emirates has resumed flights between Cape Town and Dubai as well as Johannesburg and Durban to Dubai and from there, connecting to close to 100 global destinations.

Drake Castañeda of corporate communications at Delta told Fin24 that the airline continues to adjust its flight schedules in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, travel restrictions and customer demand. As a result of this, it has adjusted the planned restart of operations between South Africa and Atlanta. The first flights are now due to depart Johannesburg and Cape Town on March 28, 2021.


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