British Airways (BA) is to introduce a 12th Boeing 777 to its London Gatwick fleet from this winter to further boost its long-haul operations from the facility. The aircraft will be used to provide additional capacity in existing markets and support the launch of a new Cape Town service from the final quarter of this year.
The aircraft will be the fourth 777 dedicated to its Gatwick operation that is configured in a three-class arrangement. Cape Town will be one of four long-haul destinations BA is launching from Gatwick this year, with flights to Costa Rica starting on April 27, 2016 daily flights to New York’s JFK beginning on May 1, 2016 and flights to Lima, Peru commencing on May 4, 2016.
The new Cape Town flight will operate on a three times weekly basis from November 24, 2016 and will complement the airline’s existing services to the South African city from its main hub at London Heathrow. It will operate with a seasonal winter-only schedule, confirmed the airline.
"We are incredibly excited to be the only airline to offer direct services from both Gatwick and Heathrow to this hugely popular destination while adding another long haul route to our rapidly growing network,” said Lynne Embleton, managing director of BA’s operations at Gatwick.
Cape Town remains a popular leisure getaway for travellers thanks to its blend of nature, culture, wildlife and history and its dramatic coastline, the breath-taking views from Table Mountain and world-renowned vineyards and restaurants make it one of the most popular places in Africa to visit and explore.
One of UK Trade & Investment’s high-growth markets, South Africa is now part of the rapidly-developing BRICS markets along with Brazil, Russia, India and China and viewed as an increasingly sophisticated and lucrative market for business and tourism development, assisted by the long-standing colonial ties between the countries. The UK is one of South Africa’s principal trading partners with annual two way business worth in excess of £7 billion a year.
BA already serves South Africa with up to four daily flights including a daily link between London Heathrow and Cape Town that grows to a double daily offering during the winter months. South African Airways and Virgin Atlantic also serve the UK – South Africa market but are now limited to just serving Johannesburg, having previously both offered non-stop flights to Cape Town.
This network link will be the first regular non-stop service between London Gatwick and South Africa since Nationwide Airlines ended its flights to/from Johannesburg in July 2008. It will be the first link to Cape Town from outside of London Heathrow since flyglobespan offered links to the South African city from Manchester for one winter season in the 2000s (from November 2006 to April 2007).
UK leisure carrier, Thomas Cook Airlines, will also introduce its own London Gatwick – Cape Town service from November 2016 offering a mix of tour packages and seat-only deals on its three times weekly flights between December 15, 2016 and March 20, 2017.
MIDT data shows an annual O&D demand of over 375,000 two-way passengers between the UK and Cape Town (around 1,030 passengers per day).