A Virgin Atlantic Airways Airbus A350-900 XWB. Robert Smith / MI News / NurPhoto / Getty Images
Robert Smith / MI News / NurPhoto / Getty Images
- Virgin Atlantic will resume its route from Cape Town in mid-November.
- He planned to resume direct service in January, but an increase in demand after South Africa was removed from the UK’s red list prompted him to return earlier.
- Shortly after South Africa was taken off the red list, the British rushed to book flights.
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Virgin Atlantic will resume direct flight service from Heathrow, London, to Cape Town International Airport much sooner than expected, following increased demand for the service.
The British airline’s first flight to Cape Town will depart on November 17, just before the peak holiday season in December, with three flights scheduled per week.
The airline had only planned to relaunch its Cape Town service in January, but after South Africa was removed from the UK’s red list, customer demand for the direct route saw a significant increase , prompting her to return it earlier.
Flights from Cape Town will go on sale from October 16. Virgin Atlantic will offer free and unlimited date and flight changes for new bookings, giving customers flexibility and supporting their future travel plans.
âThe reservation change horizon has also been extended for all customers until April 30, 2023, giving a wider window of time to reschedule plans if necessary,â the company said.
Liezl Gericke, responsible for Africa, Middle East and India, said there was pent-up demand from customers to travel to the UK and vice versa since South Africa was withdrawn from the red list.
âThe reintroduction of the Cape Town route will make it even easier for our customers to travel for business and leisure between South Africa and the UK,â said Gericke.
The British were rushing to book flights to South Africa shortly after the UK officially removed South Africa from the red list.
Virgin Atlantic halted passenger flights to and from South Africa last December after the discovery of the Covid-19 Beta variant, which was first detected in the Eastern Cape. This is largely responsible for the rapid increase in new infections, or the second wave in South Africa.
Virgin Atlantic was not the only airline to ban South African travelers; others, like British Airways, have imposed similar bans on South African travelers.
The rise of flights has been hailed by Western Cape Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities David Maynier.
“[We] can’t wait to see other airlines follow suit. The UK is a key investment, trade and tourism market for the province, and we are confident that the renewed connectivity will provide a much-appreciated economic boost to the province in a multitude of sectors, âsaid Maynier.
Wrenelle Stander, spokesperson for Air Access and CEO of Wesgro, said the return of the London Heathrow route to Cape Town is a clear sign of confidence in Cape Town and Western Cape.
âThe UK has always been our largest and most consistent long-haul market, so the potential for downstream economic opportunity is exciting. Return airlines also offer the added benefits of air freight, meaning the impact will go beyond tourism and positively impact a variety of industries, âStander said.