Delta Air Lines Is Launching Flights To Cape Town!

Thank you for your research @Ishrion! This fits rather well with what @GlobalFlyer1 wrote above and it makes sense that way for me. Thanks!


Consider the elevation at JNB compared to CPT. By doing CPT-ATL, DL will be able to lift more payload compared to JNB-ATL.

This has to be one of the most interesting triangle routes I’ve seen. Let’s see how it does.

SQ used the standard A350(The 280T) on SIN-SFO, so basically it’s an aircraft that is capable. I’m not sure if Delta ordered the 280T version or ordered a lighter MTOW version with less range, either way, they’ll need the 280T version(if it’s not already in their fleet) to fill the shoes left by the 777.


This is awesome!! Way to go Delta!


Probably because the A359 cant operate on a relatively decent load out of FAOR.

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This is good news, but it’s kind of sad that Delta has almost completely opted out of Boeing.

It has less to do with MTOW and more about Engine constraints. The 77L was an aircraft entirely OP in terms of engine power which is what allowed the 77L to fly OUT (yes take off is the limitation) of FAOR on such a long flight at heavy loads. The A359 cant do that even in the A359ULR. The limitation isnt fuel capacity or MTOW but engine capability.


The 280 should be able to make it, Airbus has been making improvements for a while. But, Delta ordered ones with some odd limitations, 308 ton MTOW and a range of only ~8000 miles. Combine that with the height of Johannesburg, and the A350 simply wouldn’t be able to make the flight.

Singapore Airlines, would be a different example. They operate with a 253-seater A359, and neither San Francisco nor Singapore is located at a high altitude. Singapore to San Francisco would be about 16 hours, which is something it can do because it’s range is more, and the number of seats is 53 less than Delta.

308 US Short Tonnes = ~280,000 KG (280 metric tonnes).

Airbus publishes 22 different weight variants of the A350-900 in their latest airport planning document which has MTOWs between 210,000 KG (231.4 US tonnes) and 280,000 KG (308.6 US Tonnes). Could it be that DL got another variant that does not have the 280t MTOW?

Another possibility would be the wing PIP Airbus made universal after MSN #216, all of the aircraft delivered before that was delivered with the old winglets with the new ones retrofitted later.

tl;dr Airbus has 22 different configurations of the A350-900 and it’s difficult to tell what variants Delta has taken/is taking.

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#1 I have no idea what y’all are talking about lol
#2 it’ll be interesting to see 2 (maybe more) A350s on this route with SQ also operating JNB-CPT

Kind of what happened with Turkish Airlines wanted to do with their Maputo via Johannesburg flights, before the request was denied

No? Delta’s website has already mentioned their their A350s only have a range of about 7500 miles, which is 900 miles less than Johannesburg to Atlanta. Even with only about 200-250 passengers which is what I’m assuming is around a normal load factor for this flight, the A350 simply cannot do Johannesburg to Atlanta. When an airport is 5,000 feet above sea level, it already makes for slightly harder departures, but this flight would likely be even more than the direct distance, since aircraft do not fly in straight lines.

Even if they got a different variant, they’ve published themselves that it has a range of ~11700 kilometers. Unless the plane can depart from an airport that’s 5,000 feet high, with an 80-85% load factor (which is the normal average for them), and fly a route that’s 900-1000 miles out of its range, they would need modified A350s… if you don’t believe me still, read what Delta’s president said about them getting modified versions from Airbus…

I’m sorry, I realize that I have been talking with too much technical jargon in my prior posts, I’ll elaborate on my thoughts.

Aircraft range as provided by the aircraft manufacturer is calculated using a set of constraints including weather conditions, payload, and takeoff field length/altitude.

We have no clue how Delta reaches their arbitrary 7,275 mile range compared to Airbus’ 9,375 mile range. It could be that Delta chose a lower number to publish for some reason, it could be that Delta dropped their MTOW assumption, increased their payload, or a combination on the three. That’s what I mean by us not knowing for sure.

It’s not that I don’t believe you. I’m just saying that those “modified versions” are different than what DL has, but it may just be an off-the-shelf A350-900 since the planes being built now are significantly different than the ones that were rolling off the line circa 2014/2015.


A little good news!

This is great news. I really thought they were considering dropping Mumbai altogether, glad to see that’s not the case.

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Yayyy! This is great, a really well put together article like always.


I’ve always found Delta’s South African routes really interesting and wondered what they would do without the 77L. This makes so much sense and is exciting, but I wonder if people travelling Johannesburg to Atlanta would choose other airlines or fly the domestic leg with other airlines.

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I’ve actually done my research. Despite the A359 having a slightly bigger wing, the 77L can lift at least 30T more payload from Johannesburg(in all conditions dry and with temperatures of 15°c assuming the Delta birds are the 280T versions). Truly amazing how powerful the 77L is. Airbus and RR should have thought of a more powerful engine variant for the Trent XWB-84. Maybe an A350-942?

The only way the A359 could do JNB-ATL is by shedding lots of payload. Delta has sacrificed revenue payload for fuel by adding that stop in CPT

A bigger engine would mean more weight and fuel burn. Unless RR develops a new rating plug for the Trent XWB variant on the A350-900 (-75/-79/-79B/-84), that’s no way that can be improved at the moment. Though it seems like DL has found a solution with the triangle route.

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It wouldn’t be a bigger engine physically, just a performance bump like what we have with the Trent 800s. This could be for the A350-900 and the new engine would have its thrust rating between that of the -84 and -97(used on the A35K).

Keep in mind that the -97 engine fitted to the -1000 has a bigger core, so the proposed thrust bumped version would be a highest thrust rating on the hardware.