Cape Town will have 24 London flights a week this summer – even as the UK cuts air traffic

A British Airways aircraft at a gate at London Heathrow Terminal 5 airport. (Photo by Dinendra Haria/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

  • Cape Town hopes that more flights from London this summer will see a boom in tourists from the United Kingdom.
  • British Airways will be adding a second daily flight between London-Heathrow from 13 November, and will be relaunching three weekly flights from London-Gatwick in December.
  • Virgin Atlantic will also resume its daily London-Heathrow to Cape Town flight in November.
  • These increased frequencies will offer 24 weekly flights between London and Cape Town over the latter’s summer season.
  • But, at the same time, British Airways says it will cancel 10,000 short-haul flights between late October and March 2023 as Heathrow’s pandemic-induced problems linger.
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Cape Town is gearing up for a bumper summer holiday season, with more flights between London promising an influx of tourists, while, at the same time, short-haul air travel in and around the United Kingdom is being cancelled.

Foreign arrivals in South Africa surged during the first quarter of 2022 but remained well below pre-pandemic levels of tourism. Winter hitting shortly after South Africa’s lockdown ended has done little to improve the sector’s recovery, as European holidaymakers chose to spend their summers in neighbors countries.

And while South Africa has struggled to welcome more foreign arrivals in recent months, the resurgence of travel, especially in Europe, recently plunged major airports into chaos.

The upcoming summer season will be the first since 2020 unaffected by the Covid-19 pandemic and its associated restrictions, holding much promise for South Africa’s tourism sector.

Cape Town, which relies greatly on overseas visitors, expects to welcome an influx of foreign holidaymakers, particularly those coming from the UK, thanks to increased flight frequencies.

British Airways will resume its London-Gatwick to Cape Town from 13 December until 25 March 2023 with three weekly flights on the Boeing 777-200. The carrier will also double its frequency on the London-Heathrow route, introducing a second daily flight from 13 November until 25 March 2022 on an Airbus A350-1000.

Virgin Atlantic will also resume its daily London-Heathrow to Cape Town flight on 5 November.

British Airways and Virgin Atlantic’s increased frequencies will result in a total of 24 weekly flights between the United Kingdom and Cape Town during the latter’s summer season.

“Happy to share the good news that from November there will be a total of 24 flights per week between Cape Town and UK for the summer season,” Mayoral Member for Economic Growth and Tourism at the City of Cape Town, James Vos, said via Twitter on Monday.

“We are working around the clock to make the tourism sector bounce back stronger than before. The visitor economy is everyone’s business.”

While South Africa can look forward to more flights and visitors this coming summer, short-haul flights to and from Heathrow Airport, which capped capacity in July to minimize disruptions, will be cut over the same period.

British Airways, which has struggled with baggage handling systems, resulting in lost and delayed luggage, will cut roughly 10,000 short-haul flights between late October and March 2023.

Although Virgin Atlantic hasn’t confirmed any fresh cancellations for later this year, the airline recently expressed disappointment in Heathrow Airport’s decision to extend its cap on passenger capacity until the end of October.

Heathrow’s daily limit of 100,000 departing passengers has previously led to cancellations on Virgin Atlantic’s roster, with flights to New York and Delhi just some of the many routes falling victim to the cap in July.

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