South Africa rejects Delta’s Cape Town plans – PaxEx.Aero

The Delta A350s now fly Atlanta-Johannesburg and back, skipping a scheduled stop in Cape Town

Late last week it was announced that Delta Air Lines no longer plans to include Cape Town in its plans for flights to South Africa. It’s easy to understand that market momentum has shifted significantly since the company first announced plans to add the additional destination just over a year ago. But that’s not the only reason the airline chose not to fly to Cape Town. As it turned out, the South African government rejected Delta’s request to operate the route.

Delta applied for the Johannesburg-Cape Town coterminalization authority to SADOT for the first time in May 2020. This was followed by months of repeated requests from the airline to secure its authority and further contacts by the US government in support of Delta’s request, which is compatible with the rights under the agreement, which in fact enables joint services by carriers from both countries. However, on May 14, 2021, SADOT informed the ministry of its view that the agreement “does not give either country’s designated airlines domestic coterminalization rights” and intends to reject Delta’s request.

-DOT filing rejecting part of the SAA application

For its part, Delta’s revised application to the US Department of Transportation only describes “commercial, operational and market developments that enable Delta to operate a direct return route from Atlanta-Johannesburg-Atlanta on 306-seat Airbus A350-900 aircraft,” in the Declaration that the Cape Town stop is no longer included.

Reciprocity in the game

As a result of South Africa’s rejection of Delta’s application, the US DOT rejected a similar application from South African Airways. While the South African airline is allowed to operate flights to the US, either non-stop or via Cape Verde and Dakar, it no longer has permission to fly to Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Philadelphia and Washington, DC. on a co-terminal basis. “

For the airline, this means no day-on flights between US cities, even without local traffic.

These routes have not been operated in a long time, so the loss to SAA is insignificant, but the US government was forced to decline the option to defend Delta and the bilateral treaty between the two countries.

While we would prefer to allow the SAA to renew any bilaterally approved exemptions it has requested, SADOT is of the opinion that the coterminalization authority requested by Delta is not provided for in the agreement. We resolutely disagree with this position, but our attempts to work with SADOT to settle this matter and justify the important US bilateral law have been unsuccessful. For this reason, under the circumstances described, we have tentatively decided that the public interest requires the rejection of parts of the application for the extension of the exemption by the SAA … We hereby propose that the powers of the SAA only through the unilateral reinterpretation of the agreement by its own Restrict government.

-DOT filing rejecting part of the SAA application

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