Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines has applied to the US Department of Transport to operate nonstop flights to Cape Town later this year. Delta wants to fly between Atlanta and Cape Town from mid-November to supplement its existing Atlanta - Johannesburg flights. Delta also continues to fight for the option to fly an Atlanta - Cape Town - Johannesburg - Atlanta routing.
Delta proposes an Airbus A350-900 flight to Cape Town
According to the filing, Delta wants to fly its 306 seat Airbus A350-900 aircraft on a nonstop basis between Atlanta (ATL) and Cape Town (CPT). The airline is eyeing a start date of November 18, 2022, depending on the travel restrictions imposed by either country due to COVID-19.
US authorities already allow Delta Air Lines to fly scheduled services between Atlanta and the coterminal points of Johannesburg and Cape Town. The airline wants this exemption authority changed to allow for the nonstop Atlanta-Cape Town service.
According to the filing, Delta’s proposed flights between Atlanta and Cape Town will depart Delta’s Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport hub three times a week at 20:45 and arrive at Cape Town at 18:45 before returning at 21:00 for arrival into Atlanta at 06:25. Delta wants to operate a year-round service with seasonal flexibility to tailor capacity to demand during off-peak periods.
“Delta has submitted an application to the US Department of Transportation for three times weekly service between Atlanta and Cape Town,” the airline said in a statement. “As always, we seek to build our flight schedules and network around where our customers want to fly. We hope to receive approval to operate nonstop Delta service on this important route.”
Delta continues to fight to fly to Johannesburg via Cape Town
Delta proposed flying to Cape Town in 2020 using an Atlanta - Johannesburg - Cape Town - Atlanta routing. However, South Africa's Department of Transport declined the request. Right now, the airline's sole South African destination is Johannesburg which Delta flies to from Atlanta.
The airline still wants to fly the Atlanta - Johannesburg - Cape Town - Atlanta routing and continues to negotiate with South African authorities. Delta says this will offer flexibility to their existing Atlanta - Johannesburg-Atlanta flights.
Delta would take on United Airlines flying between the US and Cape Town. United flies to both Johannesburg and Cape Town from its New York Newark hub. Flag carrier South African Airways is not currently operating to the United States.
US airlines eye opportunities for network growth in Africa
Delta Air Lines also flies to Dakar (DSS), Accra (ACC), and Lagos (LOS) from New York JFK. Lagos also sees a Delta service direct from Atlanta. With air links between the North America and Africa traditionally neglected before the travel downturn, US airlines are now eyeing Africa's growth potential and putting a fresh emphasis on developing routes into the continent. The troubles engulfing South African Airways also effectively removes a competitor from the field, notably on South Africa - US routes.
Flying direct to Johannesburg presents some challenges for Delta's A350s. Johannesburg Airport's high altitude means the aircraft cannot cover the distance from Atlanta with a full payload. Now, flights on the sector fly less lightly loaded than normal and still sometimes have to divert if the winds are against the aircraft. South African authorities allowing the plane to operate via Cape Town (and refuel there) would help get around this issue.
This article originally came from Simple Flying