Cape Town and the Western Cape welcomes the earlier return of United Airlines following their decision to resume their direct flights between Cape Town and Newark/New York, starting on 05 June 2022, ahead of their initial schedule.
A projected R191 million worth of direct tourism spend will be generated by United’s direct route to the Mother City for the current season ending in March 2022. With a year-round service, the route is expected to generate R523 million worth of direct tourism spend within its first year of operation.
Historically, the US has been Cape Town’s third largest market for international travel, with two-way passenger volumes between the US and Cape Town equaling 213 000 passengers in 2019. The airline plans to operate the route year-round with three nonstop flights per week and easy one-stop connections to more than 85 US cities, providing international travellers with easy access to South Africa for the upcoming season.
The economic benefits of the route also reach beyond tourism, as the added capacity on the route will further boost the total air cargo trade value between the US and Cape Town. In 2021 this value stood at R7.5 billion, making the US the top trading partner for air freight value in 2021.
Western Cape Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, David Maynier commented: “The Western Cape aviation landscape has seen many positive developments in recent months and the early return of United Airlines shows promise for continued expansion of international arrival numbers. Cape Town International Airport’s international terminal performance statistics show an impressive 35% recovery rate for international passenger volumes achieved for the period of 1-30 January 2022, in comparison to the same figures in early 2021. The recovery of the Western Cape economy is dependent on international travellers visiting the province, both for business and leisure purposes, and especially during our peak tourism season in Summer. The resumption of United Airlines flights to Cape Town earlier than expected means that many more international visitors can enjoy the natural beauty, award-winning food and wine, rich cultural heritage and diverse and affordable travel options available to all in the Western Cape. This is good news for the Western Cape, good news for our tourism and hospitality sectors, and good news for our economy.”
The City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Economic Growth, Alderman James Vos said: “United Airlines’ earlier-than-expected return signals that there is a great demand from American tourists to visit Cape Town. This direct route holds great opportunities for the Mother City with up to 24 000 potential inbound passengers from New York and numerous more travel and trade possibilities that will be of significant benefit to our economy. I can also confirm that the City’s Destination Marketing Organisation, Cape Town Tourism, and my Department are engaging with key tourism operators in New York about strengthening our partnerships that will drive supply and demand for the mutual benefit of our cities.”
“The Newark to Cape Town route is a very popular travel route which has recorded good growth. We are therefore very pleased that United Airlines has decided to return to CPT ahead of schedule. Cape Town International Airport remains focused on ensuring that passengers have a safe, healthy and pleasant travel experience. Our international passenger volumes are increasing as countries lift their travel restrictions and we remain ready to welcome ever-increasing numbers of international travellers to our shores,” said Mark Maclean, Regional General Manager of the Cape Town International Airport Cluster.
“This announcement provides much-needed relief to the tourism and hospitality sector in the Western Cape and will support economic recovery in the province through international business connectivity. The United States was South Africa’s primary source market for tourists in the past year, with 72 000 Americans arriving in our country by December 2021. We welcome this news and encourage more airlines to expand their services to our world-class tourism destination”, concluded Wesgro CEO and Official Spokesperson for Cape Town Air Access, Wrenelle Stander.