United Airlines Axes Cape Town Flight (Temporary or Permanent?)

Given the unique circumstances, we’ve seen several airlines adjust (and readjust) their strategies when it comes to network planning.

Airlines have been focusing on leisure routes rather than business routes. This is the reason we’ve seen such domestic expansion to destinations such Florida and Colorado.

Unfortunately, this also means that new “adventurous” routes – routes that generally require time to increase passenger loads – are being cut one-by-one. United Airlines is the latest airline to make such a move but is it temporary…or permanent?


In April 2019, United Airlines announced that they would be returning* to Africa with a seasonal, non-stop flight between Newark (EWR) and Cape Town (CPT) between 15 December 2019 – 25 March 2020 with the following schedule:

Wed, Fri, SunNewark (EWR)Capetown (CPT)8:30PM6:00PM (+1 day)
Mon, Thu, SatCapetown (CPT)Newark (EWR)8:50PM5:45AM (+1 day)

*Note: United used to fly from Houston to Lagos but that route was discontinued in June 2016

Delta is the only US-based carrier that flies non-stop between the USA and South Africa. If you do not select to fly on the non-stop Delta flight, you will likely connect in Europe or the Middle East and unfortunately, any connection will add significant time to your trip. Therefore, having another non-stop option (read United) is great.


As I reported last week, South Africa is in the process of reopening the border. However, it appears it may have been too little, too late to save the tourist season for United as the flight between Newark and Cape Town is no longer available.

I haven’t seen any official word from United but I’ve kept my eye on this flight because of travel I’m planning. And tonight I noticed that the flight is no longer available to purchase through the end of the season.


United Airlines has cut their Newark – Cape Town flight for the 2020-2021 winter season.

I’m always excited to hear when new routes are announced and was particularly excited to fly this route.

There were a few instances where saver business class award availability appeared but given the global pandemic and closed border, I did not book it. But even at 40k miles (+$6), I would be willing to take one for the team for the chance to travel to Cape Town.

EWR-CPT Availability

Unfortunately (but understandably) it doesn’t look like it is going to happen this season. Hopefully this route will return for the winter 2021-2022 season!

Had anyone booked this flight?

It’s worth noting that at the time publication, United is still planning to launch Newark to Johannesburg on March 27th so, not all is lost.😉

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