The airline said it would become the only US carrier to operate between Johannesburg and New York/Newark.
The Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) has welcomed the launch notification of US-based United Airlines’ first-ever non-stop daily service between Johannesburg and New York. The flights, scheduled to begin March 2021, will see the service operating between OR Tambo International Airport and New York’s Newark Liberty International Airport.
The move comes as the global airline industry is wrestling with its gravest crisis in history caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and related international travel bans and restrictions this year.
Bongiwe Pityi-Vokwana, Acsa’s GM of OR Tambo has said that “United Airlines’ announcement shows a great deal of commitment to SA and the African continent, which is set to be the next growth point for aviation.
“It presents massive opportunities for strengthened links between southern Africa and the United States as the largest economy in the world. The move also reminds us that despite the Covid-19 pandemic, OR Tambo International Airport, given its world-class infrastructure and location, is well-positioned to connect the northern and southern hemispheres.”
Pityi-Vokwana noted that while “the road to recovery will be long, there will also be opportunities for growth over the coming months as the Covid-19 pandemic curve continues to flatten.”
Before Covid-19 hit, South African Airways and US-based Delta Airlines were operating scheduled flights to the US. SAA had two routes – to New York (John F Kennedy International Airport) and Washington, while Delta had a daily flight to Atlanta.
With SAA entangled in a business rescue process, there is uncertainty around the airline resuming all its scheduled international air routes once South Africa’s Covid-19 international travel bans are lifted.
Marcel Fuchs, United’s MD of international sales also applauded the move and said, “Connecting Johannesburg to New York will open up new opportunities for both business and leisure travellers and help our customers in South Africa reconnect with friends and family around the world.”