United Airlines Inaugurates Non-Stop Cape Town Service

On Sunday, United Airlines debuted its first flight to Cape Town from New York. This marked the first time that the airline has flown to South Africa.

United Boeing 787 Aircraft
United launched a pioneering route to Cape Town on the weekend. Photo: Boeing

First of its kind

The Points Guy reports that flight UA1122 was the first time that any airline has operated a non-stop service from North America to the South African legislative capital.

This seasonal operation currently departs Newark three days a week. It departs at 20:30 on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. The journey takes 14.5 hours, arriving in Cape Town at 18:00 the next day. The return journey departs at 20:50 every Monday, Thursday and Saturday, arriving at 05:45 the next day. All times are local.

United’s vice president of international network, Patrick Quayle shared that this route has been met with a great response. This has caused the airline to bring back the service for the 2020-21 winter season. This will run from late 2020 till March 2021. However, next time around, it could launch from November rather than December.

United Boeing 787
The inaugural flight to Cape Town was operated by United’s Boeing 787-9 aircraft. Photo: Bill Abbott via Flickr

Long-haul connections

Quayle previously shared in a press release that he is glad that his airline can offer greater connectivity for its passengers.

“We are always looking at ways to expand our industry-leading international route network to offer our customers more convenient options. We’re thrilled to announce the addition of Africa to our global route offering,” said Quayle, as per the release.

“This new flight will provide customers with the only nonstop service between the United States and Cape Town.”

United Boeing 787 Planes
This seasonal route may return with even more frequency next year. Photo: Boeing

New markets

This is a positive initiative for travelers in the United States looking to travel to South Africa. United has been busy in the last year identifying emerging markets such as this and moving to capitalize on them.

The airline hopes to deliver on the growing demand in new business segments across the continents. It had recently reconfigured its 767 aircraft on flights from London to the US to help serve customers within these growing markets.

Thereafter, it has used its Bombardier CRJ-550s to connect business passengers in smaller towns in the US to other regions. Now, it is developing similar opportunities in other corners of the world.

According to Heritage, South Africa’s GDP is $765.6 billion. It also is seeing a 1.3 percent growth, along with a 1.5 percent 5-year compound annual growth.

Moreover, shifts in consumer habits within Africa could cause the continent’s aviation market to double in the next 20 years. Therefore, United is making sure to keep ahead of changes in the industry in the new decade.

Simple Flying reached out to United Airlines for comment on this new seasonal service to Cape Town. We will update the article with any further announcements.

Are you excited about this new route to the South African city? Let us know your thoughts on the move in the comment section.