David Maynier. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON
David Maynier. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON

The recently inaugurated direct flight from New York/Newark to Cape Town by United Airlines will provide a significant boost to the Western Cape economy, the province’s minister for finance and economic opportunities David Maynier believes.

He estimates that the new route will generate about R154m in direct tourism spending in the Western Cape in the first year.

The United Airlines service is the only direct flight to the Americas, including North and South America, from Cape Town. The non-stop, 12,600km flight across the Atlantic Ocean will take about 14.5 hours, and will run three times a week.

Maynier noted that the US is already a key tourism and business market for the Western Cape, being the province’s third-biggest export market, after Namibia and the UK.

It is also the most lucrative source of foreign direct investment for the Western Cape, and by far the largest in terms of capital expenditure. Furthermore, the US is third on the list of tourists visiting the province, with higher numbers coming from only the UK and Germany.

“This flight will open the US and North American markets even further to opportunities in the province, significantly contributing towards growing our tourism sector and stimulating economic growth in the Western Cape,” Maynier said.

The public-private partnership Cape Town Air Access was launched in 2015 under the auspices of the Western Cape tourism, trade and investment promotion agency Wesgro, which was instrumental in the launch of the Cape Town-New York route. The partnership was created to develop international air routes.

Maynier said the collaboration between the Western Cape provincial government, the City of Cape Town, Wesgro, Airports Company SA, SA Tourism and Cape Town Tourism, as well as the private sector, had helped land 16 new routes and 22 route expansions since its inception. More than 750,000 inbound seats have been added as a result, providing an economic boost of R6bn to the province.

Over the past year Cape Town Air Access’s expansion of existing routes includes RwandAir’s additional weekly flight from July 6, taking total weekly frequencies from four to five. Qatar Airways added three weekly flights bringing the total to 10, starting from end October 2019; while from the same time Kenya Airways expanded from three to five weekly frequencies on the direct Nairobi to Cape Town route.

ensorl@businesslive.co.za

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