***Update on 06/22/2020 at 13:54UTC – Inserted a statement from Delta Air Lines***
Delta Air Lines has officially filed its schedules for service to Cape Town. The airline will launch the Atlanta-Johannesburg-Cape Town-Atlanta service from October 24th, 2020. This route will fly using an Airbus A350-900 and will officially replace the airline’s Atlanta to Johannesburg roundtrip operated using a Boeing 777.
Delta adds Cape Town service
Per Routesonline, Delta has added service to Cape Town via Johannesburg as of June 21st. The flight is scheduled to depart Atlanta (ATL) at 17:45 local time and arrive in Johannesburg (JNB) at 15:45 local time the next day. After a quick 90 minutes on the ground, the same plane will leave JNB at 17:15 local time with arrival in Cape Town (CPT) at 19:30 local time.
Heading back to Atlanta, the A350 will sit on the ground for two hours in CPT before finally departing at 21:30 local time with arrival the next day at 06:45 local time in Atlanta. Currently, the route is scheduled to operate daily.
Back in May, the airline had indicated that it would be looking at adding Cape Town to its route map to maintain service to South Africa. Soon after, the airline received permission from the United States Department of Transportation to fly the triangle routing.
Joe Esposito, Senior Vice President– Network Planning at Delta, offered the following in a statement sent to Simple Flying:
“As we return service to our key international markets, we are looking forward to starting this new flight from Cape Town, offering customers more opportunities to fly between South Africa and the United States. Customers will have a different flying experience the next time they step onboard but this is to ensure the highest standards of safety for them and our people, which is our number one priority. We are also offering additional flexibility with
tickets so customers have extra peace of mind should they need it.”
Sourcing the aircraft
Delta will use an Airbus A350-900 for the route on a daily basis. Currently, Delta has 13 of the type in its fleet. While four LATAM aircraft were expected to enter the fleet, Delta paid over $60 million to the South American airline in order to avoid taking those jets.
However, the airline did take over $3 billion worth of A350 orders from LATAM. But, until those planes are delivered, this will put a bit of a crunch on Delta’s long-haul fleet. The A350s are expected to also fly to Sydney, Mumbai, Shanghai, Beijing, and Tokyo.
With 18 Boeing 777s exiting the fleet, Delta’s long-haul network is about to get smaller. In terms of flying the 777 routes, Delta can rejig some of its network and remove 777 and A350 transatlantic service. Replacing those aircraft could be Boeing 767s and A330s flying to destinations where Delta has suspended service.
Also, some other routes served by the A350 could be reduced in frequency. This is especially true for flights to Mumbai. Another variable is Australia. The country has taken a hard line on international tourists, and, if the border remains closed to US citizens through next year, Delta could move aircraft intended to fly to Sydney to other routes for coverage. Much of this will become clearer in the coming months.
Delta is flying its flagship Airbus A350 to South Africa. This plane is outfitted with 32 seats in Delta One, 48 Premium Select seats, and 226 Main Cabin seats. Unlike the 777s, there is no Comfort+, which is an extra-legroom economy product. This means a tough road for elite members looking to score a free upgrade.
The current 777 is also equipped with Delta One Suites. Although, that aircraft only has 28 up front, with the A350, this means that there will be more room for premium passengers or those looking to score an upgrade using certificates.
Will you be flying Delta down to South Africa? Let us know in the comments!
Routesonline was the source for scheduling data and is linked in the above piece.