South African Airways to stop London to Cape Town service

by Jessica MCILHINNEY on June 5, 2012

SAA - South African Airways - will scrap all of its direct flights between the UK capital London and Cape Town, an action that has been taken due to lack of demand.

The airline is to close the route, previously operative for over 20 years, this August. This will leave the flagship carrier with only one remaining route to Britain - between Johannesburg and London Heathrow.

Theunis Potgeiter, SAA’s commercial general manager, commented that a thorough analysis made it clear that the airline can use its aircraft a lot more profitably elsewhere. At present, there are two flights a day on the soon-to-be-cancelled route.

The airline said that the demand for flights travelling between the UK and South Africa has fallen by almost a quarter over the past three years. SAA will instead look at expanding its network to West African and Indian destinations. From August onwards, British travellers wishing to fly directly to Cape Town will have to fly with British Airways or Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic.

The move from SAA follows a decision last month by Virgin to stop flights between London and the Kenyan capital Nairobi due to drops in visitor numbers, increasing fuel costs, and rising Air Passenger Duty. As already announced, its London – Nairobi flights are to be discontinued as of September 24.

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