United Airlines resumes direct flights to South Africa

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 15: United Airlines Boeing 737-924ER takes off at Los Angeles international Airport on September 15, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)

American carrier United Airlines has launched direct flights to Johannesburg, South Africa, from New York.

Waiting for the flight at OR Tambo International Airport will be South Africa’s Tourism Minister, Mmamoloko Kubayi -Ngubane and Transport Minister, Fikile Mbalula, joined by Airports Company of South Africa executives.

Mbalula said that the inaugural flight marks the beginning of the Airline’s weekly flights between Johannesburg and New York (Newark).

The airline previously operated three weekly seasonal flights between Cape Town and Newark, which began in 2019 but discontinued at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Even though South Africans are still restricted from entering the US without government approval, SABC reports that the airline remains confident it can service the route due to a growing number of vaccinated people in both countries.

Aviation expert, Linden Birns, says the presence of the airline in South Africa is a huge confidence boost for the country.

“United is the first long haul carrier to add Johannesburg to its route network since before the pandemic. It’s also the first to reconnect South Africa to the US and it’s the only carrier to provide a daily service between Johannesburg and New York.”

“The inaugural flight will be met this afternoon by the Transport and Tourism Minister as well as senior diplomatic representatives from the United States. And the Airports Company CEO.”

(With input from SABC)