Business stakeholders in Cape Town and Miami are pushing for direct nonstop flights between the two cities, both considered gateways to emerging markets — Florida to Latin America, and the Western Cape to the rest of Africa, CapeBusinessNews reported.
There’s a strong case for a direct flight between Cape Town and Miami, according to Western Cape tourism and business leaders with strong connections to the U.S. U.S. officials back that up.
The U.S. is the No. 1 foreign direct investor in the Western Cape province, its third largest tourism source market with 200,000 arrivals in 2015, and the fifth largest buyer of Western Cape products.
Miami is the fourth largest economy in the U.S. with over 1.9 million residents and there is pent up demand for direct flights to Cape Town, said Abigail Ellary, director of Enterprise Florida, a public-private partnership between Florida’s business and government leaders. Enterprise Florida is the principal economic development organization for Florida.
U.S. businesses have shown strong investment numbers for the Cape region and a direct flight would drive exponential growth, said Brett Omdahl with the U.S. Commercial Service.
Stakeholders attended a meeting Friday with Cape Town Air Access, a collaboration between the Western Cape Provincial Government; the City of Cape Town; Cape Town Tourism; Airports Company of South Africa which operates nine of South Africa’s airports; and Wesgro, the Western Cape Investment and Trade Promotion Agency.
Any new direct flight to South Africa will increase business, said Craig van Rooyen, director of Tour d’Afrique, a South African travel agency.
Miami seems to be the destination that was the focus of the meeting, said van Rooyen, according to TourismUpdate.
“Being a long-haul destination, one of the key challenges is convincing people to take that long-haul flight to South Africa,” said Craig Drysdale, general manager at tour operator Thompsons Africa. “The more direct airlines, the better.”
A direct flight to a U.S. east coast destination would be the better option for a long-haul flight, allowing tourists to plan itineraries that start in Cape Town and work their way north, Drysdale added.
Possible airlines could include American, United and Delta. “They are definitely approaching all the other airlines to see who would be prepared to fly in here,” Van Rooyen said. “The Miami flight would also open up a lot of South American business.”
From the U.S., the only nonstop direct flights to South Africa are with South African Airways and Delta Air Lines, SA-Venues reported.
Delta flies from Atlanta to Johannesburg (a 15:10 hour flight) and SAA flies from New York to Johannesburg (a 15:05 hour flight.)
Air France KLM operates daily flights between Amsterdam and Cape Town as of May 2016, according to News24. Kenyan Airways is set to operate a three weekly flights between Nairobi and Cape Town from July 2016. British Airways is set to launch three direct flights from Gatwick to Cape Town, starting Nov. 24.
Ethiopian Airlines started a six weekly direct flights from Addis Ababa. Turkish Airlines has connected Cape Town to Istanbul on a non-stop daily flight since October 2015. SA Airlink flies to Maun, Botswana five times a week and Lufthansa is set to start a direct service between Cape Town and Frankfurt from Dec. 2, flying three times a week for the 2017 summer season.