Delta Air Lines is, once again, angling to add Cape Town, South Africa to its route map. The carrier applied to the US Department of Transportation to fly the route 3x weekly from Atlanta on a year-round basis beginning 18 November 2022.
Flights would depart Atlanta at 8:45pm, arriving in Cape Town at 6:45pm the following day. The aircraft would depart Cape Town at 9pm, arriving in Atlanta at 6:25am the following day. Delta last served Cape Town in 2009, via Dakar, Senegal.
Delta previously applied to serve Cape Town as a triangle route from Atlanta, including Johannesburg in the mix. Ultimately, however, the South African government rejected that request.
In the new application Delta acknowledges the prior plans and indicates it “is still seeking approval of a triangular, Atlanta-Johannesburg-Cape Town-Atlanta, routing from the South Africa Department of Transport to offer flexibility to the currently operating Atlanta-Johannesburg-Atlanta flights.” But this application does not seek to remove or reallocate any of the existing slots. Delta plans to keep the daily service to Johannesburg.
The application comes on the heels of United’s announcement that it will relaunch Newark-Cape Town service on a year-round basis from June, also on a 3x weekly basis.
Delta’s push to include Cape Town on the triangle route was initially tipped as driven by payload restrictions required for the A350-900 to make the westbound flight non-stop from Johannesburg. The “hot and high” conditions at the airport limit the aircraft’s available range.
But the carrier is also reported to be in line for higher max gross weight A350-900s which would increase the fuel capacity on board. With that boost, the planes could see reduced or eliminated weight restrictions.
Delta previously operated the JNB route with the 777-200LR which did not have the same limits, but it retired that fleet in 2020 at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A favor to ask while you're here...
Did you enjoy the content? Or learn something useful? Or generally just think this is the type of story you'd like to see more of? Consider supporting the site through a donation (any amount helps). It helps keep me independent and avoiding the credit card schlock.