Delta Wants To Launch Atlanta To Cape Town Route

Delta Wants To Launch Atlanta To Cape Town Route

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Delta Air Lines has just filed with the US Department of Transportation (DOT) to request the right to operate flights to Cape Town. Some may remember that Delta planned to serve Cape Town last year, but the route wasn’t approved. This time it’s a bit different.

The basics of Delta’s Cape Town service plans

Delta would like to launch a 3x weekly nonstop flight between Atlanta (ATL) and Cape Town (CPT), commencing as of November 18, 2022. If approved, the route would operate with the following schedule:

Atlanta to Cape Town departing 8:45PM arriving 6:45PM (+1 day)
Cape Town to Atlanta departing 9:00PM arriving 6:25AM (+1 day)

The 8,130 mile flight would be operated using an Airbus A350-900, featuring a total of 306 seats. This includes 32 business class seats, 48 premium economy seats, and 226 economy seats. Delta is requesting to operate the flight year-round, though does want flexibility to reduce capacity during off-peak periods, as needed.

The intent is for this to complement Delta’s existing Atlanta to Johannesburg flight. However, Delta is asking for the flexibility to potentially operate an Atlanta to Johannesburg to Cape Town to Atlanta triangle route. While the intent is currently for the flight to be nonstop in both directions and complement the existing Johannesburg service, Delta clearly wants some flexibility here.

Delta would be the second US airline to serve Cape Town. United Airlines has operated seasonal flights between Newark and Cape Town since 2019, and the airline just recently announced that this flight will be year-round as of June 2022.

Delta’s Airbus A350 premium economy cabin

This is Delta’s second attempt to serve Cape Town

The concept of Delta launching flights to Cape Town might sound familiar, and that’s for good reason. 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”

Now Delta is giving Cape Town another try. It seems that Delta thinks it can make Cape Town work as an independent route, though perhaps the airline is hoping that regulators in South Africa will eventually approve a triangle route as well. If Delta is willing to operate the flight nonstop, I see no reason the route wouldn’t be approved.

This is Delta’s second time trying to fly to Cape Town

Bottom line

Delta intends to operate a 3x weekly year-round nonstop flight between Atlanta and Cape Town as of November 2022. This would complement Delta’s existing Atlanta to Johannesburg service, and would compete with United’s Newark to Cape Town service, which will soon be year-round as well.

This route is likely to be approved, so here’s to hoping that Delta actually launches this service. It’ll be awesome to be able to fly nonstop from the United States to Cape Town on two airlines.

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

Conversations (11)
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  1. Jas Graham Guest

    How many seats are being blocked on the current JNB - ATL nonstop?

  2. Jonas Guest

    I think it would be great . I can wait to fly it

  3. Wilfred J Messiah Guest

    It will definitely be welcomed by my family, and it makes economic and logistical sense. If approved I'll be the first passenger in November.

  4. ConcordeBoy Gold

    "This is Delta’s second time trying to fly to Cape Town"

    Actually, third. They flew it via Dakar in the early '00s, with both a 763ER and later a 764ER.

  5. Happy Flyer Member

    I really hope this route works out. If the triangle routing can't be approved, I wonder if DL will do a jv with an airline able to go between the two cities in order to enhance customer experiences. I know that DL was not going to pickup in JNB and allow them to disembark at CPT.

  6. Alec Guest

    Would this have had to be in the works for a while or do you think after United's announcement they see that it would be a lucrative route

  7. sxc7885 New Member

    As a Delta DM member and someone who flies between the US and CPT several times a year Delta’s decision to fly direct is a huge plus since the JNB route usually doesn’t arrive in time to make a local connection so you have to add a night and the KLM/AF flights have god awful arrival times(once had a hotel front desk closed when I arrived because it took so long to clear customs) so...

    As a Delta DM member and someone who flies between the US and CPT several times a year Delta’s decision to fly direct is a huge plus since the JNB route usually doesn’t arrive in time to make a local connection so you have to add a night and the KLM/AF flights have god awful arrival times(once had a hotel front desk closed when I arrived because it took so long to clear customs) so for me flights to CPT have shifted to United’s Direct route which has been nice on the Polaris 787.

    Still the biggest issue I have with Delta and see the CPT route having is based on my experience with their JNB route Delta prices business class at some insane amounts and the experience isn’t THAT much better to justify it and in some cases its sub-par. Even with having a layover on KLM, Turkish, Qatar, or Emirates, Virgin, and BA or United’s direct flight its hard to justify the nearly triple amount that Delta wants for business class

    1. pwirth158 New Member

      CDG-JNB on AF landing at 11:15am is an awful arrival time? Asking only because I have this flight scheduled for later this year, and I'm wondering if there's something I didn't realize in terms of logistics.

    2. sxc7885 New Member

      Was referencing the CDG-CPT flight that got in at 1030pm and then add close to an hour for customs if they were backed up. That’s a plus Delta and united both have in that they arrive around 6PM

      1115 am in JNB will be fine if your staying in JNB or connecting onwards later that day

  8. Jason Guest

    This is actually Delta's third attempt to serve Cape Town. They served Cape Town from 2008-2009 on a scissor route that went Atlanta/New York-Dakar - Cape Town. Dakar was a "scissor hub" for them. They had flights from New York JFK and Atlanta to Dakar, and from Dakar there were flights to Johannesburg, Abuja, Cape Town, and Monrovia, Liberia. Hopefully this time Cape Town works out!

  9. bill Guest

    You have the route here listed as Atlanta to J'burg....

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Jason Guest

This is actually Delta's third attempt to serve Cape Town. They served Cape Town from 2008-2009 on a scissor route that went Atlanta/New York-Dakar - Cape Town. Dakar was a "scissor hub" for them. They had flights from New York JFK and Atlanta to Dakar, and from Dakar there were flights to Johannesburg, Abuja, Cape Town, and Monrovia, Liberia. Hopefully this time Cape Town works out!

1
Jas Graham Guest

How many seats are being blocked on the current JNB - ATL nonstop?

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Jonas Guest

I think it would be great . I can wait to fly it

0
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