The U.S. Department of Transportation has tentatively allocated three weekly frequencies each to Delta Air Lines and United Airlines for proposed flights to Cape Town, South Africa, according to a DOT order issued Friday.
Delta has wanted to add three weekly flights between Atlanta and Cape Town, while United has proposed service between Washington, D.C., and the South African city. However, only four of the 21 weekly scheduled round-trip combination service frequencies allowed by the U.S.-South Africa Air Transport Agreement were available, not the six requested.
This limitation put Delta and United at odds with each other as both had made requests—and various appeals as to why each carrier’s respective proposal would “better service the public”—for three of the four remaining frequencies.
DOT negotiated with the Department of Transport of the Republic of South Africa to allow two additional frequencies in order to accommodate the request for all six. The South African department on June 22 “advised that upon certain conditions being met, the two extra frequencies shall be considered as espoused in the Agreement.”
This notification led to DOT’s tentative allocations to Delta and United. DOT has requested that the South African department grant the applications of the carriers no later than Aug. 15. Further, DOT recommends that Delta and United should each receive two of the four currently available frequencies, and one each of the two additional service frequencies, if authorized.
“We extend our sincere gratitude to the Department of Transportation, as well as the numerous government and community leaders, airports, customers and employees who supported this application, for recognizing the tremendous benefits to tourism, commerce and diplomacy that a direct link between Cape Town and Washington, D.C., provides,” United president Brett Hart said in a statement.
The airline added it anticipates flights will be for sale when the carrier receives a final order of approval from DOT.
“Delta is pleased that its application has been tentatively approved to operate direct service from Atlanta-Cape Town,” said Delta in a statement. “We hope to provide our customers with more choice of travel between the U.S. and South Africa later this year.”