Virgin Atlantic is to return to Cape Town after a break of five years with a new winter seasonal service from London Heathrow.
Flights will operate daily from Sunday 25 October 2020 with a Boeing 787-9 aircraft.
Virgin used to fly to Cape Town until April 2015 when the route was suspended as part of a wide-ranging review of the Virgin Atlantic route network.
Cape Town is a hugely popular winter long-haul destination and the arrival of additional capacity will be welcomed.
Following the closure of Thomas Cook, the route has been exclusively operated by British Airways with daily Boeing 747s from London Heathrow and a winter seasonal Boeing 777 service from London Gatwick. It’s fair to say that the interior condition of Virgin’s 787-9 aircraft is significantly better than some of BA’s soon to be retired 747s that are used on this route.
Flight VS478 will depart London Heathrow at 16:20 arriving at Cape Town at 05:55.
Flight VS479 will depart Cape Town at 08:00 arriving at London Heathrow at 18:00.
Note the return to London Heathrow is a day flight and some may passengers prefer a night flight. There is of course the option of flying back to Heathrow overnight on Virgin Atlantic’s daily service from Johannesburg.
Flights will go on sale from Tuesday 18 February 2020.
British Airways is to launch a winter seasonal service from London Gatwick to Cape Town in South Africa from Thursday 24 November 2016.
Flights will operate three times a week and will complement the airline’s existing twice daily service from London Heathrow. It will also compete directly against Thomas Cook’s new service to Cape Town from London Gatwick which runs from 15 December 2016 to the weekend of Saturday 25/Sunday 26 March 2017. The seasonal service is currently scheduled to return from mid November 2017 to late March 2018. However, this may change depending on the commercial performance of the route.
BA flights will be operated using a three class Boeing 777 aircraft which will offer Club World business class, World Traveller Plus premium economy and World Traveller economy.
Cape Town in South Africa has long been a very popular destination for Britons seeking winter sun.
However, direct flight options between London and Cape Town have in the past year become limited to British Airways following the withdrawal of Virgin Atlantic’s seasonal route and the previous suspension by South African Airways.
Thomas Cook has now entered the market with the launch of a three times weekly flight between London Gatwick and Cape Town.
The flight will operate for three months from 15 December 2016 to 20 March 2017.
Flights will be operated using Airbus A330 aircraft in a two class economy and premium configuration.
The flight times have not yet been published.
This route adds to a growing portfolio of long-haul leisure routes at London Gatwick with Norwegian’s expanding transatlantic network and WestJet and Air Canada Rouge due to launch flights to Canada from London Gatwick next year.
The reason for this was that even though the flights continue to operate with a four class Boeing 747 aircraft, these routes would be operated with aircraft that have not been fitted with the latest version of BA’s first class cabin.
Instead, BA would operate the old first class cabin as an extension of Club World business class.
As part of a wider set of terminal moves at London Heathrow and the consolidation of BA’s operations into Terminals 3 and 5, a number of long-haul BA flights are to move from Terminal 5 to 3 from Wednesday 14 October 2015.
These flights are Accra, Cape Town, Denver, Las Vegas, Miami, Nairobi, Phoenix and Vancouver.
Virgin Atlantic has announced a significant over-haul of its network, suspending a number of non-US routes. Mumbai & Tokyo are suspended from 31 January 2015. Seasonal flights to Vancouver & Cape Town are suspended from 11 October 2014 and 26 April 2015.
Update December 2014: BA has announced that First Class will return to Vancouver from Sunday 29 March 2015 and Cape Town, Las Vegas and Phoenix from Sunday 25 October 2015. More details here
Many readers will know that, over the past five years, British Airways has been progressively updating its four class Boeing 777 and 747 aircraft with a new first class product.
The roll out on Boeing 777 aircraft has long been complete. Out of BA’s fleet of nearly fifty Boeing 747 aircraft, less than ten do not have the latest first class product. These aircraft are left with the Kelly Hoppen designed interior from the year 2000.
It is no exaggeration to say these cabins are showing their age and, in response, BA has by default offered 50,000 Avios to members of the Executive Club frequent flyer programme as compensation.
With number of 747s in BA’s fleet expected to fall to approximately thirty by 2018 and the last 747 due to retire after 2020, many of those aircraft that do not have the new first class cabin are likely to be retired over the coming year.
BA has now decided to stop selling first class on these aircraft and will instead offer a three class service, with business class passengers seated in the first class cabin (who will receive the standard “Club World” service) if there is the demand.
Following the fire at Nairobi airport in Kenya yesterday, British Airways has provided details of the options available to passengers whose flights to Nairobi have been cancelled, or are booked to fly to Nairobi over the next few days.