Delta Airlines gets regulatory approval to fly to Cape Town via Johannesburg

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA — South African government has finally approved Delta Air Lines' application to fly between Atlanta and Cape Town via Johannesburg after a year-long standoff. Cape Town is a popular touristic destination in South Africa for which US carriers compete. 

Delta Air Lines resumed its flights to Johannesburg in August 2021. The airline applied to the South African government to extend the service up to Cape Town in 2020. But documents released by the US' department of transportation revealed a regulatory stalemate. South Africa's reluctance to amend the airline's Foreign Operator's Permit led Delta to abandon its bid. In return, the US transportation ministry revoked coterminalisation rights granted to South African Airways (SAA).

Delta Air Lines' application to fly a triangular route between Atlanta, Johannesburg, and Cape Town was recently approved. The US carrier also submitted a new application this year in February for non-stop flights between Atlanta and Cape Town.

"We regard the approval of Delta Air Lines' application to fly a triangular route between Atlanta, Johannesburg, and Cape Town as a big win and we will continue to work hard to expand 'air access' because more flights means more tourists and more tourists means more jobs in the Western Cape," said David Maynier, the provincial minister of finance and economic opportunities, on Tuesday.

"We remain committed to increasing investment, expanding trade, and scaling up tourism with the United States, and so we look forward to finally welcoming Delta Air Lines to the Western Cape," Maynier continued.

The license was issued by the South Africa's International Air Services Licensing Council. The Council was only recently reformed, after being left idle for a year with operating rights left in limbo.
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