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.
Flights will be operated with a three class Boeing 787-8 aircraft.
This is the only direct route between Europe and Durban. Emirates flies direct to Durban from Dubai. Qatar Airways and Turkish Airlines also serve Durban via Johannesburg.
Although flights do not operate daily, it will be possible to connect to domestic BA services to/from Cape Town and Johannesburg on flights operated by BA’s franchise partner Comair.
This does solidify BA’s position on the London – South Africa market. BA is the sole operator on London Heathrow – Cape Town, to where BA can despatch up to three Boeing 747s a day in the winter. BA also operates up to two Airbus A380s a day on London Heathrow – Johannesburg, where South African Airways is cutting capacity.
One noteworthy difference to Cape Town and Johannesburg is that the return flight to London is a day flight rather than an overnight flight, which is obviously a matter of personal preference.
South African Airways is to reduce flights between London Heathrow and Johannesburg from twice to once daily from Friday 20 April 2018. Flight SA237 will last operate from London Heathrow on Thursday 19 April 2018.
South African Airways is to cut one of its twice-daily flights between London Heathrow and Johannesburg from Friday 20 April 2018.
Flight SA237, which departs London Heathrow at 21:00, will last operate from London Heathrow on Thursday 19 April 2018.
The state-owned (and reportedly loss-making) airline has taken the sting out of the announcement by saying that the one remaining fight (SA235) will be operated by a new Airbus A330-300 aircraft from Sunday 25 March 2017. This two class aircraft features upgraded business class seating (pictured above) with direct aisle access for all passengers. Currently, both South African Airways flights from London are operated with Airbus A330-200 aircraft.
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.
British Airways has confirmed that Johannesburg will join Hong Kong and Los Angeles in its network of destinations served by the Airbus A380.
BA will operate an A380 service on three weekly return flights from London to Johannesburg from 12 February 2014 and six weekly return flights from 10 March 2014.
Full details of the exact flights are on the BA website.
What all these destinations have in common is that no other airline operates a direct service from London using an Airbus A380 which provides some pointers as to what additional destinations may be served by the A380.
Update January 2018:
BA operates the Airbus A380 on both of its twice daily services from London Heathrow to Johannesburg until Saturday 24 March 2018. From Sunday 25 March 2018, flights BA55 and BA56 continue to be operated with the Airbus A380. Flights BA57 and BA54 are operated with a Boeing 747.