The Cape Town Air Access team announced a new non-stop flight route between New York and Cape Town hosted by United Airlines on July 2.
The route is set to begin flights on December 17 and the aim is to increase trade and tourism with America.
Cape Town Air Access is a collaboration between the provincial government, the City of Cape Town, Airports Company South Africa (ACSA), Cape Town Tourism, South African Tourism, Wesgro and private sector partners.
Tim Harris, CEO of Wesgro, said the Cape Town Air Access team has helped bring 15 new direct routes and 20 route expansions to Cape Town in the last four years, but a direct flight to America has been a challenge.
“Despite the numerous routes that we’ve landed as a team across Africa and the world, the one elusive one was always the US.”
Mr Harris said a route to America is important for the Western Cape because American travel to Cape Town has continued to grow despite the challenges of drought and seasonal drops in tourism.
“Over the past year we’ve seen many of our major markets decline significantly. Fortunately the US passenger growth was at two percent.”
Business passengers have grown even more at 19%. Mr Harris
said business class passengers are important for profitability of the route as well as boosting trade and investment.
America is the Western Cape’s third largest export market in the world and brings in over R9 million a year.
“Since 2014 we haven’t had a trade deficit, which means we sell more to the US as a province than they sell to us.”
Mr Harris said New York is the largest unserved market, with around 50 000 passengers coming from New York to Cape Town through competing airports such as OR Tambo International Airport and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.
The direct route will go to Newark Liberty International Airport, which is 23 kilometres from Manhattan Island. Because Newark has 75 international flights and over 320 domestic flights daily, Mr Harris said the airport will connect passengers from Cape Town to many destinations.
David Maynier, MEC for Finance and Economic Opportunities, said the route will benefit the people of Cape Town by giving them access to different places and bringing new people to the Western Cape.
“By expanding air connectivity, we can expand opportunity for our people.”