Cape Town Air Access partners today hosted an engagement with Western Cape businesses and key stakeholders in the economy, to provide a briefing on the new non-stop flight between Newark/New York and Cape Town.
Welcoming guests to the briefing, the Executive Mayor of the City of Cape Town, Dan Plato, said: "We are excited for the launch of the US route with United Airlines starting in December and look forward to the expansion of our tourism industry through greater connectedness. We want to increase access that the rest of the world has to South Africa and Africa. Cape Town is perfectly placed to be the gateway to the rest of the continent."
This new non-stop flight between North America will commence on 15 December 2019, serviced by United Airlines on a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. The new route will depart Newark Liberty International at 8.30pm, arriving in Cape Town at 6pm, cutting travel time between the two destinations by 8 hours in total.
“Our new service between Cape Town and our New York/Newark hub will enable our business and leisure customers to choose a more convenient and seamless way to travel between South Africa and the U.S. and support business opportunities between the Western Cape’s technology sector and the U.S.,” said Bob Schumacher, United’s Regional Managing Director Sales.
Reflecting on this game-changing announcement, Minister David Maynier, MEC for Finance & Economic Opportunities in the Western Cape, praised the Cape Town Air Access partnership for its collaborative approach in landing this major route. “As a result of this new non-stop seasonal flight between North America and the Western Cape, it is estimated that there will be R154 million in direct tourism spending in the first year. Research shows that a year-long flight can help to create nearly 900 jobs, providing a R144 million Gross Value Add for the Western Cape economy."
Indeed, according to a research commissioned by Cape Town Air Access, an estimated 24 000 additional inbound travellers are expected from the US as a result of a direct route. This will help grow this market by a sizeable 20%.
Providing a behind the scenes look at the work done by the Cape Town Air Access team in landing the route, Wesgro CEO, Tim Harris, noted that the investment and trade relations between the USA and the Western Cape assisted in motivating for the route. “The USA is the Western Cape’s third biggest export destination, accounting for over R9 billion. Other major investments in the Western Cape by US companies, including Amazon, have also resulted in increased business travel demand. This new non-stop flight will make it easier to do business in our region, and will boost exports through the belly of the aircraft. This will be a key focus for Wesgro in ensuring the route is sustainable.”
Prior to the establishment of the new route, New York was the largest unserved city for Cape Town and the Western Cape globally, with 56 000 passengers travelling via connecting flights. In total, some 218 000 passengers travelled between the two destinations. 23 500 of these passengers travelled in Business Class, representing a 19% increase between 2017 and 2018.
This new route will not only provide a major boost to the Western Cape economy, but will help grow tourism cross South Africa. Acting CEO of South African Tourism, a partner of Cape Town Air Access, Sthembiso Dlamini said: "The US Market has been identified by SA Tourism as one of seven key markets to drive tourism growth into South Africa. In terms of remaining on target for 5-in-5 for this region, we will require growth of 16% over the next two years and its air access partnerships like the United Airlines partnership that will allow us the opportunity to achieve this growth.”
To date, Cape Town Air Access has helped land 15 new routes, and 20 route expansions, resulting in over 1.5 million two-way seats being added into Cape Town. This growth means Cape Town International Airport will need to expand its infrastructure to accommodate the growth. Deon Cloete, General Manager of Cape Town International, Africa’s best airport, said: "We affirm the airport's commitment toward delivering an efficient and quality experience. We process nearly 11 million passengers per annum , handle up to 20 000 pieces of bags per day while the airline pumps as much as 2 million litres of fuel on peak days – so it is a complex operation. We remain committed to ensuring that we play our part in offering a quality experience to all airport users. We look forward to welcoming United Airlines later this year".
In conclusion, Solly Fourie, Head of the Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism, which first pioneered the Air Access initiative, said: “We proudly support this project because it is helping grow our economy, creating jobs for the many people who are unemployed in our province and country. We thank the Cape Town Air Access team for their efforts in landing new routes, and we look forward to ensuring the new US route is sustainable and year-round.”
Cape Town Air Access is a partnership between the Western Cape Government, the City of Cape Town, Cape Town Tourism, Wesgro, South African Tourism and Airports Company South Africa, as well as private sector partners.