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United Officially Applies to Launch Dulles to Cape Town Service

United Officially Applies to Launch Dulles to Cape Town Service


On the morning of May 18, United Airlines announced it had filed an application with the US Department of Transportation (DOT) to fly from Washington, D.C. (IAD) to Cape Town (CPT) thrice weekly. This proposed flight will become the first service between the two capitals, paving the way for better inter-governmental connections and relations.


The proposal calls for the commencement of service on November 17, 2022, using the Boeing 787-9 aircraft. According to United, 55 US cities will be reachable through Dulles, representing more than 90% of US travel demand at Cape Town. Patrick Quayle, United's Senior Vice President of International Network and Alliances, stated in regard to the application, "From creating new jobs, to supporting key civic and aid organizations, United has taken tremendous pride in growing our family and operations in South Africa, and across the African continent." 


Photo of N24979 - United Airlines Boeing 787-9 at IAH
United Airlines announced its intention to fly from Washington, D.C. (IAD) to Cape Town (CPT) thrice weekly using the Boeing 787. Photo: Peter Cuthbert


From Washington-Dulles, United already serves the African cities of Accra (ACC) and Lagos (LOS). Additionally, the carrier flies to Johannesburg (JHB) and Cape Town (CPT) from Newark. However, the Washington D.C. to Cape Town route, in terms of demand, is the largest between the U.S. and South Africa without nonstop service. The United press release noted that Washington D.C. is the second largest point in the U.S. for Cape Town demand and holds the fifth largest South-African-born population. 


A decision will likely be reached soon. Should the application be successful, United will have relatively frequent service to Cape Town across two different, major US airports and will make it easier for passengers to travel between the two continents.

Davis Turner
Planespotter and aviation journalist from the San Francisco Bay Area. Davis has previously worked on business plan research with StartupBoeing and historical analysis with Ricondo and Associates. Davis will be a freshman in college this fall, based in Chicago.

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