Article Written by Leila Chaibi

CALGARY – Beginning December 15, 2019, United Airlines plans to operate three non-stop weekly flights from New York/Newark International Airport to Cape Town, South Africa, making it the first direct route from North America to Africa.

Pending federal approval from USDOT, the direct flight will reduce travel time to the historic port city by about eight hours for those living in and around the tri-state area and beyond.

Photo: Andre Madrid

This will make vacation plans to one of the world’s most exotic locales increasingly more feasible between the months of December to March.

Patrick Quayle, United’s VP of International Network is thrilled to have Africa added to their global route offerings, which already include direct routes to both Prague and Naples in 2019.

“We are always looking at ways to expand our industry-leading international route network to offer our customers more convenient options,” he said.

“This new flight will provide customers with the only nonstop service between the United States and Cape Town”, he added.

The non-stop service will be operated on United’s Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, a wide-body jet featuring 48 seats in United Polaris business class, 88 seats in United Economy Plus and 116 seats in United Economy.

Flight schedule include departures from Newark International at approximately 20:30, with arrivals into Cape Town at 18:00 local time next day.

Fares have not yet been announced, but a quick scan of several competitor’s return ticket prices land around $760 USD on the low end to over $1000 USD on the high end during the month of December.

This route will no doubt prove to be popular, especially given the touristy demand of the city.

The airline carries around 158 million customers annually, with the hopes that some of these new routes that will be inaugurated over the course of the year will boost that number well over the 160 million mark by 2020.

This will no doubt put some pressure on the likes of South African Airways who operate to Johannesburg from New York’s JFK with the Airbus A340-600.

Lower fares on United’s end could put even more strain on the carrier’s ability to serve the U.S direct from South Africa.