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United Airlines Launches first ever non-stop service between Washington, D.C and Cape Town

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Today, United Airlines officially expanded its service to Cape Town with three non-stop flights per week, year-round, between Washington Dulles Airport (IAD) and Cape Town International Airport (CTIA). This complements their year-round Newark/New York service that is already flying three times per week to Cape Town.

The route positions United Airlines as the first carrier to provide a nonstop, roundtrip service from Washington, D.C. to Cape Town, and will connect customers via United’s Washington Dulles hub to over 60 destinations across the Americas.

With the existing Newark – Cape Town route expected to contribute an estimated R523-million worth of direct tourism spend within the airline’s first year of operation (June 2022-May 2023), the Washington Dulles – Cape Town route is also anticipated to become a major boost for the Western Cape economic engine.

“The United States is a key source market for South Africa. We know that visitors from this market want to come experience our history and culture, our wildlife and safari, and of course our beautiful wide open spaces. South Africa is ready to deliver all of this and much more. As a country, we thank our partners at United Airlines for their continued support and welcome this direct flight. We invite American travelers to visit Cape Town and then also explore other parts of South Africa as we have a lot to offer across our nine provinces,” said Ms. Nomasonto Ndlovu, Chief Operating Officer at South African Tourism.

The first passengers to ever fly the non-stop service from Washington Dulles Airport stepped onto the Cape Town International Airport tarmac this afternoon – greeted by local officials, members of the Western Cape government & the City of Cape Town, Wesgro’s Cape Town Air Access team, and our local talented Cape Minstrels band.

Wesgro CEO and the Official Spokesperson for Cape Town Air Access, Wrenelle Stander, said: “The addition of United’s Washington, Dulles – Cape Town service alongside their existing Newark – Cape Town route will enable the continued expansion of economic opportunities for Cape Town and the Western Cape. The United States is a key source market for tourism, trade and investment for the province. We look forward to the bumper summer season ahead, and we would like to thank United Airlines for its continued commitment to our destination.”

The United States has historically been Cape Town’s third largest international market, with two-way passenger volumes between the United States and Cape Town equalling 213 000 passengers in 2019. For the first quarter of 2022, two-way passenger volumes between the United States and Cape Town exceeded 27 000, representing a 51% recovery rate when compared to the same quarter in 2019. Based on previous route introductions, it is estimated that this new direct service will result in a passenger stimulus of at least 25% for Cape Town.

Western Cape Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, Mireille Wenger, said: “Tourism is a major contributor to the Western Cape, supporting almost 175 000 jobs and generating roughly R15.5 billion in gross value added to the economy in 2019. This is why we are so excited to welcome United Airlines’ direct flights from New York. Not only do these flights boost tourism but they also provide great opportunities to export proudly Western Cape goods via air cargo. For example, this route alone has capacity for 648 metric tonnes of cargo between November 2022 and March 2023. In addition, further benefits from the additional direct route to the US includes easier access for business travel, which can boost investment into the province, and with 191 international flights coming into Cape Town each week from January 2023, we are well on our way in moving from recovery to growth in this sector.”

When it comes to air cargo, a total of 686 metric tonnes was transported between Cape Town and the United States in the first quarter of 2022, representing an impressive 74% recovery rate when compared to the same period in 2019. In 2021, a total of 2 384 metric tonnes of cargo was transported in the same route, which was a 50% recovery rate when compared to 2019.

“The landing of this flight from Washington signifies our destination strength and the success of the City’s mission to connect with more source markets through the Air Access initiative, clever campaigns, and city-to-city agreements. My team and I will continue to work on such projects that ensure more travel and trade to the Cape. This includes our efforts to lobby National Government to liberalise measures for a more open air transport market. Where implemented, it has resulted in an increased utilisation of airspace, more competitive fares and more choices for travellers,” concluded Mayoral Committee Member for Economic Growth at the City of Cape Town, Alderman James Vos.

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