Delta Air Lines Is Launching Flights To Cape Town!

Wow. Did NOT see this coming.

Delta Air Lines is launching flights to Cape Town with a twist.


Last week, Delta announced it would retire its Boeing 777s by the end of the year, which includes the Boeing 777-200LR.

The 777-200LR is used on Delta’s longest route, Atlanta to Johannesburg. Because Delta is retiring the aircraft, this led many to question the future of this route as Delta’s Airbus A350s may not have the capability to fly nonstop due to the range and elevation of Johannesburg.

Now the ThePointsGuy has revealed the answer as Delta will use the A350 to launch a triangle route:

Atlanta to Johannesburg to Cape Town to Atlanta:


By departing out of Cape Town, it will reduce both the range and elevation and allow Delta to operate the flight back to Atlanta nonstop.

Passengers will be able to travel to Cape Town on Delta with a stopover in Johannesburg. However, unless the government gives approval, passengers cannot solely fly between Johannesburg and Cape Town.

From what it looks like, Delta last served Cape Town 10 years ago using a New York to Dakar to Cape Town route.

Currently, Delta plans to launch the route on October 24, 2020, subject to travel restrictions. Additionally, Delta will need to take delivery of an “enhanced” A350. Could this be the A350ULR?

All future A350 deliveries will come with the capability to operate Delta’s longer routes — abilities lacking on the airline’s first 13 A350s — Hauenstein said Wednesday without elaborating.



During this crisis, we’ve seen numerous things such as airlines launching domestic tag routes. However, this is on another level as it adds a new destination to Delta’s route map and we could potentially see Delta converting A350 orders into the A350-900ULR?

What are your thoughts on this special route?


Finally, some more good news


Ooooh pretty cool!

I’d love to fly on that some day.


That’s real nice.

That’s a pretty cool adjustment to their schedule.

What do you think will happen to the JFK-BOM route? Will we see a 350 there too or is it more likely that delta is gonna pull the plug on this sector?

1 Like

It should continue:

Flights to Mumbai (BOM), Shanghai Pudong (PVG) and Sydney (SYD) will continue as they are with the Airbus jets, with modifications planned for its flight to Johannesburg (JNB).


Wouldn’t this route also serve as competition for United?

Indirect competition, kind of.

United operates Newark to Cape Town direct while Delta’s will originate in Atlanta but go through Johannesburg.

1 Like

I believe a Singapore Airlines was also looking into this at one point, the ability to fly passengers between Cape Town and Johannesburg only, since if South African and Comair collapsed, the country would be left with very few links between the cities. Very interesting to hear! I assumed they’ll have to use specially modified A350s, since with the high density of their current ones and the fact that they chose a 308-MTOW A350, would likely not allow it to operate JNB-ATL nonstop without blocking seats


I’m just glad to see airlines regaining some business.

Interesting route. I wonder if it will work or not.

I’m glad we are seeing news like this again. This is some happy news in times of crisis! 😃

1 Like

Oh this is a nice bit of information. Good share!

1 Like

What is the flight duration differrence between Cape town and Johannsebrg from Atlanta?

Wow that’s interesting, definitely a fun one to try sometime in IF

1 Like

I wonder if this coronavirus thing will bring back tag flights for good. Like honestly, a lot of small/medium cities could get served by new airlines, especially airlines like Southwest or JetBlue that don’t have regional partners could add a significant number of cities with tag flights. I know the rise of longer regional flights, and a lot of transcontinental even 737s and A320 have all but killed it, but I wonder if this will make airlines rediscover that. Especially in the long haul market like we see here. Service to two relatively small cities could probably be perfectly economical.


It’s about 300 miles shorter when flying from Cape Town to Atlanta so maybe 30-40 minutes shorter

1 Like

This sound like a great fix to the range issue, but I don’t really get why the A350s currently in the fleet wouldn’t be capable of this routing (especially after reading the other Delta thread)?

1 Like

Well I’m not a pilot for one, so I can’t 100% verify everything but Delta opted for a higher density A350 configuration, with an MTOW of 308 tons and a range of only about 8,000 miles. While it may seem like a lot, Johannesburg to Atlanta is 400 miles outside of this A350s range, and it’d likely be pretty full since it’s a profitable route for them. By adding the stopover in Cape Town, not only can they fly to 2 destinations in 1 go, but they can also more passengers with a specially-modified A350, as otherwise they’d need to block seats.

Cape Town to Atlanta is 8130 miles, which is also 130 miles outside of their A350’s range. However, other A350s from different airlines have opted to use ones with lower MTOWs and less seats, such as Philippine Airlines. New York to Manila, the longest route operated by a normal A350 (ULR), is 8491 miles, so it’s just that Delta likely didn’t expect to have to retire their 77Ls so early, and did not realize their A350s cannot make it nonstop.


Thank you for this really detailed explanation and all the input! Much appreciated.


Airbus lists the A350-900 as having 15,000km of range in a 3-class config (assuming with pax?)

But on Delta’s website, they list their own aircraft as 11,708km of range.

Not sure if this accurately represents Delta’s A350s, but it looks like they have a shorter range compared to some other A350 operators.