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Finally, Nonstop Flights From United States to Cape Town Are Coming

By Michelle Baran

Apr 16, 2019

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United’s new route would introduce the only direct flights between North America and Cape Town.

Courtesy of Shutterstock

United’s new route would introduce the only direct flights between North America and Cape Town.

Anyone who has ever flown from the United States to South Africa knows it can be a very long journey, and layovers only make it longer. But United Airlines is hoping to make getting there a bit more seamless with a new direct service.

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United Airlines has applied with the U.S. Department of Transportation to introduce a new route between Newark International Airport and Cape Town International Airport in South Africa. Pending approval, this would be the only nonstop service between North America and Cape Town.

While airlines such as Delta and South African Airways offer direct flights between the United States and Johannesburg, there are currently no direct flights between the United States and Cape Town, despite the fact that it is one of South Africa’s most popular leisure travel destinations.

Once it gets the green light, United plans to operate the Cape Town flights three times per week starting on December 15, 2019.

How Airlines Get New Routes

The new service would also mark a return to Africa for United after a three-year hiatus from the continent. The carrier had previously operated direct flights from Houston to Lagos, Nigeria, which it discontinued in June 2016, and from Washington Dulles to Accra, Ghana, which it discontinued in July 2012. Both were halted due to a lack in demand.

Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners will fly the new Cape Town route.

United plans to offer the proposed route between Newark and Cape Town on a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. The 252-passenger aircraft has 48 business-class seats, 88 Economy Plus seats, and 116 economy seats. The flights would depart Newark at 8:30 p.m. to arrive in Cape Town at 6 p.m. the following day, and they would depart Cape Town at 8:50 p.m. to arrive at Newark at 5:45 a.m. the next morning.


According to United, the new nonstop flights, which would have a flight time of about 15 hours, would reduce the travel time to Cape Town by at least four hours.

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