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Every airline in the world is searching for a way to cut costs due to the decrease in travel demand and many airlines have made the critical decision to shrink fleet size and retire planes.
A few days ago I wrote that Delta would be retiring all of their 777s by the end of the year. One problem that I pointed out was that all of Delta’s existing 777 routes could be flown by their A350-900s, except one – their Atlanta (ATL) to Johannesburg (JNB) flight. It’s one of the longest flights in the world.
More specifically, it’s not the westbound Atlanta (ATL) to Johannesburg (JNB) flight that’s the challenge, it’s the eastbound Johannesburg (JNB) to Atlanta (ATL) flight that poses the challenge.
The route covers a distance of a distance of 8,439 miles but there are significant headwinds when flying eastbound which means more fuel consumption. In other words, with a full plane, this route is not possible.
CREATIVE PROBLEM SOLVING
It appears that Delta has found a creative solution for maintaining the Johannesburg route without having the 777 in their fleet.
According to Cranky Flier, Delta has filed with DOT to operate a triangle route. The airline will fly from Atlanta (ATL) – Johannesburg (JNB) – Cape Town (CPT) – Atlanta (ATL)
Although Cape Town may look like it’s the same distance (if not longer) on this map, the westbound flight is more than 300 miles shorter. Additionally, the Cape Town Airport is located, essentially, at sea level (as opposed to Johannesburgs high altitude airport) improving the aircraft’s performance. In other words, Deltas A350 can easily make this route.
As the tweet above mentioned, Johannesburg to Cape Town is (obviously) a domestic flight in a foreign country so Delta won’t be able to sell tickets on that route. However, if you’re interested in flying from the US to Cape Town, it is now possible.
Given that Delta has installed their new suites on the A350, this is an extremely intriguing way to experience 17+ hours of luxury to an amazing destination.
Personally, I’m sad to see so many planes being retired. However, this is an interesting redemption that should begin in October and I’m interested.
Historically, Delta has released very little award availability on the ATL-JNB route but given planes are currently empty and will be presumably for some time, we could see more availability on this route.
Have you have flown on a Delta A350? What was your experience? Have you ever visited Cape Town? What was your experience? Are you interested in flying this route?