Cape Town Air Access celebrates United Airlines continuous service to the destination – expected to generate more than half a billion worth of direct tourism spend

  • On 06 June 2022, United Airlines extended their New York/ Newark – Cape Town route to a year-round, three times per week service
  • The New York/Newark – Cape Town route is expected to generate R523-million worth of direct tourism spend within its first year of operation
  • United States has historically been Cape Town’s third largest international market and United Airline’s continuous service is expected to reach beyond tourism

Yesterday, United Airlines officially expanded its service to Cape Town with three non-stop flights per week, year-round, between Cape Town International Airport and its New York hub, following their decision to resume their direct flights between Cape Town and Newark/New York, ahead of their initial schedule.

The Boeing 787-9 aircraft was welcomed by a cheery crowd – a mixture of a waiting public, representatives from the Western Cape government & the City of Cape Town, representatives from ACSA and United Airlines, Wesgro’s Air Access team, United Airlines’ cabin crew, as well as the CTT Penguins – all joined in to celebrate the start of the year-round route.

Supporting the economic recovery in the Western Cape and providing much-needed relief to the tourism and hospitality sector in the province, the New York/Newark – Cape Town route is expected to generate R523-million worth of direct tourism spend within its first year of operation (June 2022-May 2023).

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. In addition:

  • The United States was Cape Town’s fifth-largest international market in 2021 based on two-way passenger volumes
  • Two-way passenger volumes for the first quarter of 2022 exceeded 27 000, which was a 51% recovery when compared to the same quarter in 2019
  • Two-way international business class passengers displayed a recovery of 65% for the first quarter of 2022 when compared to the same period in 2019
  • Based on previous route introductions, it is estimated that a new direct service results in a passenger stimulus of at least 25% for Cape Town
  • A total of 2 384 metric tonnes of cargo was transported between the Western Cape and the United States in 2021, which was a 50% recovery when compared to 2019
  • In the first quarter of 2022 (Jan-Mar) 686 metric tonnes of air cargo were transported between the Western Cape and the United States, a 74% recovery when compared to the first quarter of 2019

Western Cape Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, Mireille Wenger, commented:  “The expansion of the current service by United Airlines, from seasonal flights to an all-year-round service which includes three flights per week direct from New York/Newark-Cape Town, is more great news for the Western Cape. There is clearly a surge in demand for flights to Cape Town as a global travel destination. This points to signs of recovery and rebound in the tourism and hospitality sector. We are working on clearing obstacles so that we can increase connections to the Western Cape, which will bring a host of positive contributions to the economy and job creation. At the end of the day, more flights mean more tourists, and more tourists mean more jobs in the Western Cape.”

Mayor of Cape Town, Geordin-Hill Lewis, said: “It is no mistake that an increasing number of international airlines have confidence in Cape Town. For years, through our Cape Town Air Access programme, in partnership with Wesgro, we have been hard at work to bring more direct international flights to Cape Town through supporting airlines with the regulatory and business tools they need. The Air Access example illustrates that a focus on careful, economy-focussed planning, as well as a view of government as a facilitator of private-sector led growth, can reap substantial reward for local economies. The stimulus provided by increased numbers of passenger arrivals will boost our economy, getting more people into jobs and out of poverty.” 

“Latest research indicates that this year, more than two-thirds of Americans (68%) are planning to go big on their next trip, and nearly a third plan to visit a bucket-list destination, which means that we can expect a high proportion of leisure travellers on this New York/Newark – Cape Town route. We also expect the impact of this continuous service to reach beyond tourism, and impact positively into a variety of other sectors while also offering the added benefits of belly freight cargo. We wish to thank United Airlines for their continued commitment to Cape Town & the Western Cape”, concluded Wesgro CEO and the Official Spokesperson for Air Access, Wrenelle Stander.

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