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United And Delta Fight For Non-Stop Flights To Cape Town
In 2019, United launched a seasonal non-stop service between Newark and Cape Town. This year, the airline is adding year-round flights from June 5. Delta will start a new triangle routing later this year that travels from between Atlanta, Johannesburg, and Cape Town.
But, the competition does not end there. Due to a bilateral air service agreement, the United States is only allowed to fly 21 flights per week to South Africa. Seventeen of them have already been taken up, and only four open slots remain. Thus, this situation is leading to a battle between airlines.
The feud went public after United filed its application with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for three weekly non-stop flights from Washington, D.C. to South Africa’s legislative capital.
United’s proposal was made three months after Delta announced its intention to offer non-stop flights to the same South African city. In February, Delta filed with the DOT for government approval to operate non-stop flights from its hub in Atlanta.
In order to have priority over Delta to get its proposal approved, United argued that its competitor’s intention (to be awarded non-stop flights to Cape Town) should be regarded as its “lowest priority”, adding that it is more committed to serving passengers between the two countries than Delta, and the Atlanta-based airline has held a dominant position for too long, Business Insider reported.
With the recovery of international air travel, Cape Town is seen as a strategic tourist spot for those two airlines as the city is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Africa. Being South Africa’s second-largest city, Cape Town is a melting pot of creativity and cuisine, ranking among the most beautiful cities in the world. According to Cape Town Tourism, international tourist arrivals in April to the city were 74% of pre-pandemic numbers in April 2019, receiving 67,032 international arrivals.