United Airlines Launches Service between Washington DC and Cape Town

A United Airlines Dreamliner takes off.
JBabinski380, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

LONDON – One of the United States’ airlines, United Airlines has announced the launch of a service between Washington Dulles Airport (IAD) and Cape Town International Airport, South Africa (CTIA). The non-stop service will be scheduled three times a week, mirroring the already-in-service New York – Cape Town route that operates out of Newark Airport. 

For its first flight it left Dulles International on November 17th at 18:40. The route which takes approximately 14.5 hours aboard a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, is planned to operate on service number UA 2222. The launch of this route means that United are the first airline to provide non-stop and round trip services from Washington DC to Cape Town.

Based on two-way passenger volume, Cape Town is historically the United States third largest international market. Passenger volumes between the two countries in the first quarter of 2019 were 213,000. When comparing that to the first quarter passenger numbers for 2022, this represents a fifty one per cent increase on traffic numbers.

The new route opening up is expected to contribute further to the tourism revenues in the Western Cape, with Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunity Mireille Wenger saying: “Tourism is a major contributor to the Western Cape, supporting almost 175,000 jobs and generating roughly R15.5bn in gross value added to the economy in 2019.”

“This is why we are so excited to welcome United Airlines’ direct flights from New York. Not only do these flights boost tourism but they also provide great opportunities to export Western Cape goods via air cargo.”

With history, amazing landscapes and world famous safari’s on offer, Nomasonto Ndlovu, COO at South African Tourism said: “We invite American travellers to visit Cape Town and then also explore other parts of South Africa as we have a lot to offer across our nine provinces”

As well as providing a corridor to the southern hemisphere the US – SA route is a key economic opportunity, as outlined by Wrenelle Stander the CEO and official spokesperson for Cape Town Air Access: “The addition of United’s Washington, Dulles – Cape Town service alongside their existing Newark – Cape Town route will enable the continued expansion of economic opportunities for Cape Town and the Western Cape.”

“The United States is a key source market for tourism, trade and investment for the province. We look forward to the bumper summer season ahead, and we would like to thank United Airlines for its continued commitment to our destination.” Stander concluded. 

The route will provide a key cargo thoroughfare on top of the tourism opportunities it opens up. Providing 648 metric tonnes of cargo transportation between November 2022 and March 2023. In 2021 a total of 2,384 metric tonnes of cargo was transported between Cape Town and the United States, proving a 50% recovery rate when compared to the same time in 2019. 

”The landing of this flight from Washington signifies our destination strength and the success of the City’s mission to connect with more source markets through the Air Access initiative, clever campaigns, and city-to-city agreements. My team and I will continue to work on such projects that ensure more travel and trade to the Cape,” concluded Wenger. 

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