Delta Airlines will fly the triangular Atlanta – Johannesburg – Cape Town route after a prolonged wait of nearly two years.
Delta resumed its direct flights between Johannesburg and Atlanta from Monday, 2 August 2022.
In its 15th year operating the Johannesburg route, Delta is using its flagship Airbus A350-900, one of the newest and most fuel-efficient aircraft in its fleet.
Delta will launch a triangular service between the three destinations on 2 December 2022, operating four times a week. “As demand for travel increases, we’ll be offering our largest-ever schedule between South Africa and the US this summer,” said Jimmy Eichelgruen, Delta’s director of sales for Africa, Middle East and India.
The service will operate on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays through at least March 25, 2023.
The Western Cape government is happy, and has been strongly in favour of Delta’s bid as it would mean an increased tourist in-flow into the region. Delta has been eyeing this triangular route first starting in 2020. It has been an uphill battle, with the South African government being less than welcoming, which in turn led the US government to slap reciprocal measures on South African Airways.
The triangular route means that west bound passengers can board in Johannesburg, and additional passengers can be loaded in Cape Town while the aircraft refuels for the long Atlantic flight, this is because, owing to Johannesburg’s high altitude, the Airbus A350-900 cannot take off with a full payload and full tanks.
Now that Delta has finally managed to get the approval, the Western Cape government couldn’t be happier. David Maynier, Minister for Finance and Economic Opportunities in the Western Cape government, said in a statement, “We regard the approval of Delta Air Lines’ application to fly a triangular route between Atlanta, Johannesburg and Cape Town as a big win and we will continue to work hard to expand ‘air access’ because more flights means more tourists and more tourists means more jobs in the Western Cape.”
Delta and United have been engaged in a cut-throat verbal and regulatory spat over the limited number of slots available between the two countries.
Delta attempted to launch an Atlanta-Johannesburg-Cape Town-Atlanta triangular route in 2020 and again in 2021 but failed to secure the green light from South Africa’s government.