New direct flight route between South Africa and the UK planned

Plane flying Source: Google Images

In the wake of Thomas Cook’s demise, the ripple effect felt in South Africa has been well documented. The travel firm conducted a lot of business in South Africa, and their subsequent bankruptcy saw jobs fold on our shores. However, opportunity still knocks for airlines who want to establish a new direct flight route between South Africa and Britain.

Thomas Cook used to run a very popular – and relatively affordable – flight schedule from Cape Town to Gatwick. The company were the only other firm that offered direct travel between our two countries, barring British Airways (BA). However, the loss of their business means that there is now one less route to Blighty from Mzansi.

Thomas Cook and South Africa – the damage has been done

Almost 9 000 passengers had flights booked with Thomas Cook this summer, for travel between Cape Town and London. Their plans have dissolved, and they face a battle to recoup their money. A total of 966 seats will now go unfilled each week, and TC’s Airbus A330-200 – the aircraft which conducted the trips on the flight route – has been grounded.

It has left BA with a monopoly on this particular route, which is bad news for travellers. Increased demand and fewer options give the airline free-reign to jack up their prices. But, amid the doom and gloom, it seems Virgin Atlantic are preparing to fill the void.

Direct flights between South Africa and the UK

The company has previously serviced flights to and from South Africa, but their interest waned as BA and Thomas Cook stamped their authority. According to a report from Tourism Update, Virgin Atlantic have announced plans for a vastly expanded flight route network out of London Heathrow – including Cape Town.

Sadly, this won’t be an immediate turnaround. The company are waiting on the UK government to give the go ahead to a third runway at Heathrow. but they cannot expand their business until this gets underway. Both Wesgro and Cape Town Air Access claim to have held “positive talks” with Virgin over a Cape Town route.

Cape Town to London flight route – hold your horses…

However, no formal discussions have been held between any of the parties. It’s unlikely that a new flight route will be unveiled between now and the end of the summer. So if you’re a Brit chasing sunshine and safaris, or a Saffa who loves sight-seeing, your options remain severely limited in terms of a direct route.

KLM, Lufthansa and even Turkish Airlines offer amicable routes to the UK via a transfer in Europe, but as it stands, only one direct schedule remains.