Delta Launching Atlanta To Cape Town Route In December 2022

Delta Launching Atlanta To Cape Town Route In December 2022

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Delta Air Lines has today announced plans to launch a new route between Atlanta and Cape Town. This route has been in the works for quite some time, but is now official, as it has the required regulatory approval. This is in addition to two other cool route announcements from Delta today, for flights from Los Angeles to Tahiti and Atlanta to Tel Aviv.

The basics of Delta’s Cape Town service plans

As of December 17, 2022, Delta will launch a 3x weekly year-round nonstop flight between Atlanta (ATL) and Cape Town (CPT), with the following schedule:

DL210 Atlanta to Cape Town departing 8:50PM arriving 6:15PM (+1 day)
DL211 Cape Town to Atlanta departing 10:50PM arriving 8:00AM (+1 day)

The 8,130-mile flight will be operated eastbound on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, and westbound on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. It’s blocked at 14hr25min eastbound and 16hr10min westbound. Delta will use an Airbus A350-900 for the route, featuring a total of 306 seats. This includes 32 business class seats, 48 premium economy seats, and 226 economy seats.

This will complement Delta’s existing Atlanta to Johannesburg flight. Delta will be the second US airline to serve Cape Town. United Airlines operates a year-round flight from Newark to Cape Town, plus will soon launch a year-round flight from Washington to Cape Town.

Delta’s Airbus A350 premium economy cabin

Why it was a challenge for Delta to launch this route

As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, Delta has expressed interest in operating this route for quite some time. So why did it take so long for this route to be “official?” Well, it’s because Delta needed permission to operate this route:

  • In February 2022, Delta Air Lines announced plans to launch a new 3x weekly service between Atlanta and Cape Town; shortly thereafter United announced plans for its new Washington to Cape Town service, also 3x weekly
  • The catch is that the bilateral aviation agreement between the United States and South Africa limits frequencies, and there were only four additional frequencies that could be awarded
  • It was up to the Department of Transportation (DOT) to decide which airline should get those slots, and both airlines made compelling cases
  • The great news is that the DOT worked behind the scenes to increase frequencies between the two countries, and managed to negotiate an additional two frequencies with counterparts in South Africa
  • This means that both Delta and United can operate 3x weekly flights to Cape Town, as desired

Delta had requested permission for Cape Town service going back much further than that. In mid-2020, Delta announced plans to operate a triangle route to Cape Town:

  • Delta had always flown its Boeing 777s between Atlanta and Johannesburg, but the airline retired 777s due to the pandemic
  • Delta’s other longest range aircraft is the A350, and flying nonstop from Johannesburg to Atlanta posed a challenge, both due to the distance and the altitude of Johannesburg airport (high altitude airports limit takeoff capabilities)
  • As a result, Delta proposed operating an Atlanta to Johannesburg to Cape Town to Atlanta triangle flight, which would allow the airline to serve two markets in South Africa, while also solving the performance issues (Cape Town to Atlanta is a bit shorter, and Cape Town is also at a much lower altitude)
  • This request ended up being rejected by South African aviation regulators, who argued that the aviation agreement between the two countries “does not confer domestic coterminalization rights for designated airlines of both countries”

Fortunately this time around things worked out better.

Delta will finally start flying to Cape Town

Bottom line

Delta will operate a 3x weekly year-round nonstop flight between Atlanta and Cape Town as of December 2022. This complements Delta’s existing Atlanta to Johannesburg service, and competes with United’s service to Cape Town from both Newark and Washington. It’s great to see that two US airlines will soon serve Cape Town (while American has zero service to Africa).

What do you make of Delta’s planned Atlanta to Cape Town flight?

Conversations (12)
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  1. Laura Guest

    How long before we I can book a non-stop flight from Atlanta to Cape Town?

  2. maurice samuel Guest

    I have no information, I am making this up based on my prior experience attempting to import backpacking freeze-dried food to South Africa, where the ANC Minister demanded a bribe, and I dropped the proposal. South Africans still have no edible backpacking freeze-dried food. I have it, I bring it with me. Backpacking is of course a white person's sport. The Minister knows nothing of it, nor supports it.

    My facts here may be wrong....

    I have no information, I am making this up based on my prior experience attempting to import backpacking freeze-dried food to South Africa, where the ANC Minister demanded a bribe, and I dropped the proposal. South Africans still have no edible backpacking freeze-dried food. I have it, I bring it with me. Backpacking is of course a white person's sport. The Minister knows nothing of it, nor supports it.

    My facts here may be wrong. My opinions are challengeable. I am a user. I am not in the loop, but I experience things, I live in the dark and bump into things, and I must guess what they are.

    SAA gave up its lucrative US-SA routes, based on ANC propaganda. I believe SAA also gave up its profitable SA-South American routes. The ANC was upset that most of the faces on these flights were white. Instead of running a profitable airline based on real flyers, they decided to fly to African destinations, predicting, correctly, that the faces on these flights would be black. But the flights flew mostly empty. SAA lost so much money it went out of the international business. SAA is just another state owned enterprise that feeds cronies with taxpayer monies. It has not, and IMO will not, buy any modern long distance jets, and so its international future is sterile. The regulatory body is now similarly cronified.

    Until demanded bribes are paid, no route changes are going to be approved. It's all settled now.

    I am very grateful to Delta and United for servicing routes I need. Getting from South Africa to South America now requires me to fly to Miami. I'm going to buy a boat. It's just a hop across the South Atlantic. They do it every year in the Cape-Rio yacht race.

  3. Geri Guest

    I have tried several times to inquire with a Delta representative over the phone about booking the proposed “Triangle “ flight from ATL-Johannesburg-Cape Town-ATL. Not a single Delta representative has ever heard about this flight.

    1. Karl Guest

      That's because it has never a real flight. It was proposed/requested by Delta to the South African government, but that routing was denied and never flown nor offered for sale.

  4. Chris Guest

    Does anyone know when tickets go on sale for ATL - CPT?

  5. Geoff Guest

    Over/under on DeltaOne mileage requirements? I'll start with 900,000.

  6. RetiredATLATC Diamond

    When are they going to do something about improving the Premium Select meals back to pre-pandemic level?

    An economy class meal in PS is not very Premium.

    1. RetiredATLATC Diamond

      Well, ask Delta Twitter and get a quick reply:

      Hello! Thank you so much for reaching out.
      While I am not seeing a timeline specifically for bringing back meals we have made some enhancements to our Delta Premium Select service that began on July 26th.

      Psgrs will receive a Welcome Card with printed mini menu and QR code when available, a scented towel followed by sparkling wine/water, Bites (packages snack), water and cutlery. Acces...

      Well, ask Delta Twitter and get a quick reply:

      Hello! Thank you so much for reaching out.
      While I am not seeing a timeline specifically for bringing back meals we have made some enhancements to our Delta Premium Select service that began on July 26th.

      Psgrs will receive a Welcome Card with printed mini menu and QR code when available, a scented towel followed by sparkling wine/water, Bites (packages snack), water and cutlery. Acces to the Delta One Skybreak basket will be offered after completion of the first service.

      There will be another Phase happening at a later time as well and details will be forthcoming.

  7. Rich T Guest

    Great news. But what will Delta do now to support its JBurg route going forward w/o 777s? I assume it will keep flying the route?

    1. Tim Dunn Diamond

      yes, Delta will maintain ATL-JNB. If anything, the flight may stop in CPT on some days during S. Africa summer. DL asked for the permission to do that but was denied because they didn't serve CPT. ATL is the longest destination any airline serves from JNB and even the 777LR had to make stops on some days during S. African summer.
      Given that the A350 is a larger aircraft than UA's 787-9s, DL and...

      yes, Delta will maintain ATL-JNB. If anything, the flight may stop in CPT on some days during S. Africa summer. DL asked for the permission to do that but was denied because they didn't serve CPT. ATL is the longest destination any airline serves from JNB and even the 777LR had to make stops on some days during S. African summer.
      Given that the A350 is a larger aircraft than UA's 787-9s, DL and UA have about the same number of seats to/from S. Africa even though UA now has more flights.

  8. Tim Dunn Diamond

    Delta is also re-adding ATL-Tel Aviv next spring, also 3 days/week on the A350 as well as LAX to PPT (Tahiti) 3X/week on the 767 this winter.
    There are statements elsewhere that Delta is beefing up MIA-LAX which they have flown infrequently for years but that is not confirmed by Delta.

  9. Sean M. Diamond

    You say that US DOT "managed to negotiate an additional two frequencies" which is not quite accurate. The "additional frequencies" are extra-bilateral, so they are basically a concession from the South African side granted in exchange for certain concessions from the US side (undisclosed, but most likely related to third country codeshare restrictions that had been a sticking point in the past). The BASA remains restricted to 21 frequencies on each side, so these may...

    You say that US DOT "managed to negotiate an additional two frequencies" which is not quite accurate. The "additional frequencies" are extra-bilateral, so they are basically a concession from the South African side granted in exchange for certain concessions from the US side (undisclosed, but most likely related to third country codeshare restrictions that had been a sticking point in the past). The BASA remains restricted to 21 frequencies on each side, so these may not be reallocated without consent of the SA side, unlike if the BASA had been amended to increase the frequencies.

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Tim Dunn Diamond

yes, Delta will maintain ATL-JNB. If anything, the flight may stop in CPT on some days during S. Africa summer. DL asked for the permission to do that but was denied because they didn't serve CPT. ATL is the longest destination any airline serves from JNB and even the 777LR had to make stops on some days during S. African summer. Given that the A350 is a larger aircraft than UA's 787-9s, DL and UA have about the same number of seats to/from S. Africa even though UA now has more flights.

1
Sean M. Diamond

You say that US DOT "managed to negotiate an additional two frequencies" which is not quite accurate. The "additional frequencies" are extra-bilateral, so they are basically a concession from the South African side granted in exchange for certain concessions from the US side (undisclosed, but most likely related to third country codeshare restrictions that had been a sticking point in the past). The BASA remains restricted to 21 frequencies on each side, so these may not be reallocated without consent of the SA side, unlike if the BASA had been amended to increase the frequencies.

1
Laura Guest

How long before we I can book a non-stop flight from Atlanta to Cape Town?

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