December 26, 2019: United Airlines began its maiden non-stop flight to Cape Town, South Africa from New York City’s Newark Liberty International Airport on December 15, making it the only airline to offer this service. The announcement was made in April 2019.

Earlier the travel time from the United States to Cape Town was 19 hours each way, ever since the last non-stop route from Miami on South African Airways ended in 1999.

"If you've flown to Cape Town before, you've probably had to connect through Johannesburg or through Europe, and this flight being able to go from Newark, New Jersey, to Cape Town will save nearly eight hours round-trip," Patrick Quayle, United Airline’s vice president of international network said. "It also means new one-stop access to Cape Town for more than 80 US cities, which formerly had only multi-city flights available that could take some 35 hours one-way.

Now, with this landmark route three flights a week has been launched departing Newark on Sundays, Wednesdays and, and returning on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays using a B787-9 Dreamliner.

Quayle shared that this route has been met with a great response. This has caused the airline to bring back the service for the 2020-21 winter season. This will run from late 2020 till March 2021. However, next time around, it could launch from November rather than December.

“We are always looking at ways to expand our industry-leading international route network to offer our customers more convenient options. We’re thrilled to announce the addition of Africa to our global route offering. This new flight will provide customers with the only nonstop service between the United States and Cape Town,” said Quayle in a release by United.

This is a positive initiative for travellers in the United States looking to travel to South Africa. United has been busy in the last year identifying emerging markets such as this and moving to capitalise on them.

Moreover, shifts in consumer habits within Africa could cause the continent’s aviation market to double in the next 20 years. Therefore, United is making sure to keep ahead of changes in the industry in the new decade.

The airline hopes to deliver on the growing demand in new business segments across the continents. It had recently reconfigured its B767 aircraft on flights from London to the US to help serve customers within these growing markets.

The new flight also marks the first flight to the African continent for United in three years as it cancelled its nonstop flight to Lagos, Nigeria, in 2016. In 2020, other US airlines will join in with new routes to African hubs. American Airlines is set to begin its first-ever route to the continent in June with a nonstop flight to Casablanca, Morocco, making it the only US airline with a nonstop flight to Casablanca.

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