Delta Forced to Drop Cape Town as U.S., South Africa Spar
The U.S. Transportation Department (DOT) and its South African counterpart are engaged in a tit-for-tat over carriers’ access to their countries. The DOT partially denied South African Airways‘ (SAA) exemption to serve the U.S., specifically co-terminal flights to Los Angeles, New York, Washington, D.C., and Miami. In other words, SAA cannot operate so-called “tag” flights between U.S. cities from its primary gateway in the country.
The move was reciprocal, after South Africa’s Transportation Department denied Delta Air Lines’ application to operate a “triangle route” to from Atlanta to Cape Town via Johannesburg. In denying SAA’s exemption, DOT argued that South Africa’s interpretation of the U.S.-South Africa bilateral air services agreement was flawed.
But it is more theoretical than actual, as SAA in financial turmoil has suspended long-haul flights, with no firm plans to resume for several years.
Delta amended its application for a frequency allocation to request starting Atlanta-Johannesburg service on August 1, and formally dropped plans to serve Cape Town. “While we were hopeful to receive final approval from the South African government to fly directly to Cape Town, we have adjusted our schedule to reflect updated plans to concentrate on our long-standing, nonstop service between Atlanta and Johannesburg,” a spokesperson for the airline said. The carrier plans to operate the route on an Airbus A350-900, but it is unclear whether the carrier can fly the route nonstop without taking a weight restriction on the aircraft. Delta previously flew the route with Boeing 777s, a fleet type it retired last year.
Instead, Delta will rely on alliance and codeshare partners for the onward flight. “Delta customers will be able to connect to Cape Town through Johannesburg with convenient onward flights operated by interline agreements with our local partners,” the airline spokesman said.
- With the number of country’s on the UK’s Green List growing, EasyJet will add two new routes to newly included Malta. The discounter will launch service between the Mediterranean island and both Bristol and London Luton in July and continuing through the summer. EasyJet will also up the number of seats it offers to Malta from London Gatwick and Manchester.
- Frontier Airlines is well on its way to dominate in Sin City. The budget carrier will add five new routes from Las Vegas to Bloomington, Ill., Madison, Memphis, Northwest Arkansas and Tucson in August. The growth comes as Frontier is set to surpass Delta as Las Vegas’ third largest airline by seats in July, according to Cirium schedules.
- With Iceland already reopened to most vaccinated travelers or those with a negative Covid-19 tests, Icelandair is planning ahead to summer 2022. The airline will return to Baltimore/Washington with four weekly flights from Reykjavik on a Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft from May 2022. The Baltimore flights will complement Icelandair’s service to nearby Washington Dulles International Airport. The airline last served Baltimore from 2018-19, Cirium shows.
- With its first Boeing 737 Max 8-200 flying, Ryanair is looking forward to this winter. The discounter will add Helsinki to its map — a city it served briefly in August 2020 per Cirium — with flights to eight destinations from October: Brussels Charleroi, Kaunas, London Stansted, Milan Bergamo, Paris Beauvais, Poznan, Riga and Warsaw Modlin. Ryanair will also add new service between Tampere-Pirkkala, Finland, and London Stansted.
- Spirit Airlines had a surprise in store for Milwaukee when its first flights to the city landed last week. The discounter will add five new routes from the Wisconsin city by the end of the year, complementing the three that just began. Spirit will connect Milwaukee to Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Phoenix and Tampa from November 17, and Cancun from December 23.
- Star Alliance member Turkish Airlines plans to expand its U.S. network to 12 destinations. Dallas/Fort Worth and Denver will join its 10 existing destinations “based on market conditions,” Turkish said in an announcement last week. The carrier provided no additional details on the new service.
- U.S. domestic travel may be in full on recovery mode but airlines are still adding flights to outdoor-oriented destinations. United Airlines will add Lewiston, Idaho, to its map in October, and Bishop, Calif. — replacing service to nearby Mammoth Lakes — in December. The carrier will connect Bishop to its Denver, Los Angeles and San Francisco hubs; and Lewiston to its Denver hub.
- With travel restrictions easing, WestJet is adding 11 new routes mostly to, from and in British Columbia as part of its capacity recovery. The additions will connect Abbotsford and Prince George; Calgary and Charlottetown; Comox and Toronto; Edmonton and Kamloops, Nanaimo and Penticton; Kelowna and both Regina and Saskatoon; Victoria and Ottawa, Saskatoon and Winnipeg. The new flights all begin by July 29.
- And with an eye on Canadian snowbirds this winter, WestJet discount arm Swoop will connect Victoria with both Las Vegas and Puerto Vallarta from October. The additions are its latest network expansion, which includes new service to Orlando Sanford, St. Petersburg-Clearwater and San Diego.