Delta to launch Atlanta route to South Africa with two stops

The airline is also adding seasonal service from Atlanta to Sao Paulo.

Delta Air Lines plans in December to expand its service from Atlanta to South Africa with stops in both Johannesburg and Cape Town.

The route will operate four days a week starting Dec. 2, flying from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport to Johannesburg, then to Cape Town before returning to Atlanta.

The so-called “triangle” route on the carrier’s flagship Airbus A350-900 aircraft will be in addition to Delta’s existing nonstop flights to South Africa. Delta already flies from Atlanta to Johannesburg and its Atlanta-Cape Town route will start Dec. 17, each with a few flights a week. Combined, there will be daily flights from Atlanta to both cities in South Africa.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Delta used the Boeing 777 on the Atlanta-Johannesburg route, one of the world’s longest nonstop flights. But it retired its 777 fleet during the pandemic amid cutbacks, and the A350 has more seats than the 777.

The airline originally applied for federal approval to launch the triangle route in 2020, with the idea of attracting passengers flying from the U.S. to two destinations in South Africa, as well as U.S.-bound travelers from both of those cities. Because of restrictions on foreign airlines transporting domestic passengers, Delta will not pick up passengers flying only between Johannesburg and Cape Town.

Atlanta-based Delta said the service would “increase travel and trade opportunities, boost Atlanta and regional economies, create jobs, and provide benefits to travelers across the U.S.,” according to its application for the route authority. However, the airline initially struggled to get approval from South Africa’s government for the stop in Cape Town.

Delta has now gotten approval and has started selling flights on the triangle route.

Separately, Delta also plans to launch daily flights from Atlanta to Sao Paulo, Brazil as a seasonal route operating from Dec. 17 through March 25.