June 25, 2021: A spat between South Africa and Delta Air Lines intensified yesterday with government insiders claiming that the airline needed to stick to the foreign operator's permit to allow it a stop in Cape Town on the return segment of its Atlanta-Johannesburg service, reports IOL.

Officials of the department of transport accused Delta Airlines of bullying and dictating the terms in the domestic market.

“Everyone wants to land and pick up passengers in Cape Town. That though kills the market for Johannesburg and Durban respectively,“ an official told Business Report.

”If you go to the United Kingdom for instance, when there are no slots in Heathrow, they will direct you to subsidiary airports like Gatwick so they generate business as well.

He said South Africa was overly friendly with its bilateral agreements which left local industries struggling on reciprocating as other countries were tougher.

Delta's flights to Joburg are operated in partnership with Air France, KLM and Virgin Atlantic. Customers can also reach South Africa via Delta's European hubs in Paris and Amsterdam.

Delta, which previously had an Atlanta-to-Cape Town direct flight, was disrupted by the Covid-19 outbreak early last year.

The department said that Delta, like all other foreign carriers, had to comply with flying to the capital and then picking up passengers only at subsidiary airports, not be operational in all major airports because that distorted the domestic market.

Officials said Delta, which over the weekend announced securing the Atlanta-Johannesburg route, did not currently have similar official approval for Cape Town and had resorted to threatening a backlash against SAA, which is the only national carrier that goes to the United States.

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