Delta will add Cape Town service to keep Johannesburg flights going with the Airbus A350
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
LATEST UPDATE: Delta could begin new Cape Town flights in October
ORIGINAL POST: Delta Air Lines has plans for how to continue serving some of its longest-haul routes to places like Johannesburg and Sydney with the Airbus A350 following its decision to retire the Boeing 777.
The Atlanta-based carrier will add A350-900s with the capability of flying all but one of the four ultra long-haul routes previously flown with 777-200LRs, Delta president Glen Hauenstein told staff during a virtual town hall on Wednesday viewed by TPG. 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).
“We’re very confident that there is nothing we were flying back before the crisis that we cannot fly in the future with A350 equipment,” he said.
Hauenstein did not provide a timeline for the restart of any of the ultra long-haul routes that Delta flew with the 777-200LR prior to the coronavirus pandemic. The routes, all of which have been suspended, were:
- Atlanta – Johannesburg: 8,439 miles
- Atlanta – Shanghai: 7,659 miles
- Los Angeles (LAX) – Sydney: 7,488 miles
- New York JFK – Mumbai: 7,799 miles
Delta will continue Johannesburg flights with the A350 by adding a stop in Cape Town (CPT), said Hauenstein. The airline’s South Africa service will follow a new circular routing that goes: Atlanta-Johannesburg-Cape Town-Atlanta. The stop will allow for refueling at sea level before beginning the 8,130-mile trek back to the U.S.
This is something of a win-win for Delta and travelers: the airline can continue serving Johannesburg, a city where it is the only U.S. carrier, and add tourist-popular Cape Town to its map. Passengers flying from Johannesburg would stop in Cape Town on the way back to Atlanta, but Delta would not be able sell tickets solely on the domestic South Africa leg without special accommodation from the government.
The 777 was something of an oddball in the carrier’s widebody fleet. Delta only had 18 of the type — eight of the -200ER and 10 of the -200LR — with no plans to add more, whereas it has nearly 60 more next-generation Airbus A330 and A350 wide-bodies on order.
The capabilities of the 777-200LR previously allowed Delta to operate the four long-haul routes mentioned above. However, with demand for international travel dampened by the coronavirus crisis and not expected to return until 2023 or 2024, the airline had to make tough decisions with its wide-body fleet. The 777 was, in a sense, the sacrificial cow.
“It was the queen of the fleet,” said Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta, on the 777 during the town hall. The jet was the first new delivery to the carrier after it emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2007, he added.
View this post on Instagram
A post shared by Ned Russell (@airbus777) on
Delta began flying the A350 in 2017. It introduced its Delta One business class suite on the plane, which is fitted with 32 suites, 48 Premium Select premium economy seats and 226 economy seats. The airline now operates 13 jets and has orders for another 26, including 14 that it acquired from LATAM Airlines last September.
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.
The baseline range of the A350-900 is 7,275 miles, according to Delta. However, Airbus offers a higher-weight version with a range of 9,321 miles and the A350-900ULR with a range of 11,163 miles. Singapore Airlines uses the latter variant on its ultra long-haul flights between Singapore (SIN) and Newark (EWR) and San Francisco (SFO).
Delta will not be alone when flights begin to Cape Town. United Airlines launched seasonal service between Newark and the South African city in December, though it has not said whether the flights will return since the COVID-19 crisis began.
Hauenstein also did not say when Cape Town flights will begin and Johannesburg flights resume. South Africa remains largely closed to international arrivals with no timeline yet for when restrictions will lift.
Delta also needs to take delivery of the enhanced A350s from Airbus before the flights can restart.
But when restrictions lift and the planes are available, Hauenstein assured staff that Delta does plan to return to South Africa.
Featured image by Alberto Riva/The Points Guy.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
- Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees