Delta Air Lines will add Cape Town as a stopover on Johannesburg-Atlanta flights

Delta Air Lines finally succeeded in obtaining the approval of the South African aeronautical authorities to operate the triangular route Atlanta – Johannesburg – Cape Town. The permission to do so comes after an extended wait of nearly two years for the US carrier. Delta is expected to take advantage of the approval in the coming months and modify its South African network accordingly.

Additionally, Delta had also sought approval from the US Department of Transportation to operate direct Atlanta – Cape Town flights. An airline spokesperson told Simple Flying that approvals for this route are still pending despite permission to serve Cape Town indirectly. The spokesperson added,

Delta is pleased that its application to operate its Atlanta-Johannesburg-Cape Town-Atlanta triangular route has been approved. We look forward to expanding our new route to serve South Africa later this year and offering more travel choices between the United States and South Africa.

The Western Cape government is pleased

Delta has been eyeing this triangular route for nearly two years now. The lawsuit began in 2020, and it appears the pandemic has not impacted the airline’s intentions regarding the route. From the outset, the government of South Africa’s Western Cape province was very supportive of Delta’s offer as it would mean an increase in the flow of tourists to the region. However, the South African government had been less than welcoming, leading to the US government imposing reciprocal measures on South African Airways.

Delta is expected to begin operating the triangular route later this year. Photo: GC Maps

Now that Delta has finally managed to secure approval, the Western Cape government couldn’t be happier. David Maynier, Minister for Finance and Economic Opportunities for the Western Cape Government, said in a statement:

“We view the approval of Delta Air Lines’ application to fly a triangular route between Atlanta, Johannesburg and Cape Town as a great victory and we will continue to work hard to expand ‘airline access’ because more flights means more more tourists and more tourists means more jobs in the Western Cape. We remain committed to increasing investment, expanding trade and increasing tourism with the United States, and so we look forward to finally welcoming Delta Air Lines in the Western Cape.

This time for Africa

Despite the devastating effects of the COVID pandemic, US carriers are considering significant expansion of routes and capacity to South African destinations. Since the bankruptcy of South African Airways, the non-stop market between the two countries has been offered to American carriers. Delta and United Airlines have engaged in a fierce verbal and regulatory dispute over the limited number of slots available between the two countries.

Delta Air Lines is beginning to challenge United’s growing presence in the United States-South Africa market. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | single flight

In any case, the battle for more slots between the two points to a positive recovery for South African markets. United Airlines will certainly not be happy with Delta’s endorsement. It will be interesting to see how the former plans to curb Delta’s growing presence in the region.

What do you think of Delta Air Lines’ plans to fly the ATL-JNB-CPT triangular route? Do you think this gives Delta an advantage over United Airlines? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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