A bilateral disagreement has ensued after South Africa’s refusal of Delta Airline’s Johannesburg – Cape Town sector. Delta Airlines reversed plans to fly a triangular route between Atlanta in the United States, Johannesburg and Cape Town in South Africa.
The surprising development comes as a hit to the city of Cape Town which receives a large number of tourist arrivals from the United States. Delta Airlines will now have to rely on interline partners to extend more options to its passengers
According to simple flying, complexities around a bilateral agreement between the two countries are the reason behind Delta’s decision. The South African department of transport referred to the 1996 Air Transport Agreement claiming that it “does not confer domestic coterminalization rights for designated airlines of both countries.”
The United States does not agree with this interpretation and in the spirit of reciprocity has moved to bar South African Airways from flying coterminal points in the United States. Of-course SAA is not effectively affected by this as it has only just emerged out of business rescue and has no plans to fly long haul for atleast 2 years
Delta has previously flown a direct route to Cape Town but this was dropped due to the Covid pandemic.
After retiring its Boeing 777-200LR Aircraft which serviced the Johannesburg route before the pandemic, it was thought that Delta needed the tag flight to Cape Town using its new Airbus A350-900 aicraft in order to avoid having to fly back from the high elevation at OR Tambo at Max payload, the fuel burn from this would mean Delta could not make it back to Atlanta. Cape Town offered Delta a much more efficient sea-level departure.
According to anonymous sources who spoke to media house, iol, “Delta wants to have its way here without consideration of the domestic market,”
However, this arrangement has precedence in the South African market with Singapore Airlines which has an onward flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town
This saga is still unfolding…