Western Cape says Delta Air Lines flight to Cape Town critical for economic recovery
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The Western Cape government is speaking out about the pending Delta Air Lines application to the Department of Transport for the airline to add a stop to Cape Town International Airport on its Atlanta-Johannesburg service.
Earlier this week, IOL reported that the airline is set to make its post-Covid-19 return to South Africa with a non-stop service between Atlanta and Johannesburg from August 1.
MEC for Finance and Economic Opportunities David Maynier said when the airline announced its plans to return to South Africa, it apparently planned to operate a triangle route from Atlanta to Johannesburg and Cape Town.
"This matter was brought to my attention several weeks ago. I have been actively engaged in the matter, given the critical importance of the Cape Town route for tourist and business connections from the United States to the Western Cape," he said.
Maynier said he wrote to Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula on May 13, 2021, to review and approve the application for the triangular Atlanta - Johannesburg - Cape Town route. He also wrote to the Minister of Tourism Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane on May 17 to ask her to take up the matter with the Department of Transport.
"I have since received a reply from Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane indicating that her department is in ‘intensive discussions' with the Department of Transport on this matter.
"We have also engaged regularly over the past several weeks with all stakeholders involved in the matter, including representatives from Delta Air Lines, the US Consulate General, and Cape Town Air Access, to ensure that every possible angle could be pursued in resolving this matter.
"From the various engagements that officials from the Department of Economic Development and Tourism and Cape Town Air Access have had with the Department of Transport, it appears that a possible reason for the delay in the Delta Air Lines application is that this request is seen as a triangular flight which will cause competition with domestic carriers," he said.
Maynier said the route will not impact domestic airlines.
He said the Cape Town Air Access team engaged with the Department of Transport over this issue on several occasions, but claims the “Department of Transport has not provided satisfactory evidence or arguments to oppose this application”.
He added that the delays were “constraining South Africa’s air connectivity to other countries” and “unnecessarily compounding the negative impact of the global travel restrictions imposed”, due to Covid-19.
"The Delta Air Lines flight to Cape Town is key for economic recovery and job creation in the Western Cape. I appeal to Minister Fikile Mbalula to urgently review this matter and expedite this long overdue application so that Delta Air Lines can fly to Cape Town," he said.