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United Now Serving Cape Town Year-Round

A United 787-9 in Los Angeles (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

As the second-largest city in South Africa, Cape Town has become extremely famous for its scenery, sun and the sea – making the city an extra hot tourist destination for travellers all over the world, with the top five countries with the largest number of tourists consisting of the U.S. the UK, France, Germany and the Netherlands.

This is why it would be without a doubt that airlines worldwide would want to have either nonstop or a codeshare route to the popular South African city – something that is easier said than done, considering that airlines would have to look at operational capacity, government regulations and overall market status.

Even though it holds the title as one of the major U.S carriers, Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines had to scrap its plans to fly its Atlanta-Johannesburg-Cape Town triangle route as it was unable to get the approval from the South African government despite months of repeated requests – causing the airline to only be able to serve a nonstop flight to Johannesburg instead.

No Stopping United

With Delta Air Lines out of the Cape Town picture for now, this gives way to another prominent U.S carrier, Chicago-based United Airlines which managed to launch a seasonal nonstop service between Newark and Cape Town back in late 2019. However, the pandemic caused a big pause on the service before it was resumed in December 2021.

It would seem like the route has had quite the success for United Airlines, as the airline is planning to move forward and expand from seasonal to year-round service starting later this year from June 5 – although this too is subject to government approval.

Should the Star Alliance member get the go-ahead, it plans to operate the year-round service through a three-times-weekly flight schedule using its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner fleet. Besides the long-haul prospect, the flagship aircraft of United is the perfect fit as the fleet boasts 48 lie-flat, United Polaris business class seats, 21 United Premium Plus seats and 39 seats in Economy Plus for the passengers’ ultimate comfort during the long flight.

The Eastbound flight is timed at 14 hours and 55 minutes and will operate on Sundays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, whereas the Westbound flight is timed for 15 hours and 40 minutes, operating on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. At just slightly 7,800 miles for each direction, this will be one of United’s longest flights.

Growing African Network

As it so happens, United Airlines is currently the only airline to offer nonstop flights between the U.S. and Cape Town, and also offers more flights to South Africa than any other North American carrier – whereby on top of Cape Town, the airline also has direct flights from Newark to Johannesburg, Washington D.C and Accra as well as Washington D.C and Lagos.

Presumably, the demand for the non-stop service is definitely going to skyrocket even more with South African Airways – a fellow Star Alliance partner with United Airlines – having a limited international network after being struck severely hard by the pandemic. A struggling airline and a restricted network provide a clear indication of the pent-up frustration to travel overseas present in South Africa and United could very well be the key to releasing it.

Charlotte Seet


  • Charlotte Seet

    Fascinated by aircraft from a very young age, Charlotte’s dream was to work alongside the big birds one day. Pursuing her dream, she went on to achieve her diploma in Aviation Management and is currently working on her degree in Aviation Business in Administration with a minor in Air Traffic Management. When she’s not busy with school assignments, you can find her aircraft spotting for long hours at the airport. In Charlotte’s heart, the Queen of the Skies will always be her favorite aircraft.

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