The joy and jubilation around the landing of the inaugural flight of United Airlines from New York Newark to Johannesburg ORTIA was a bright spot in South Africa’s current travel and tourism landscape of doom and gloom.
It's a show of faith in South Africa on the part of the US carrier - both as a market and as a tourism destination, and this signals that the airline is willing and able to take a long view to make sure it’s in pole position when South Africa’s engines of tourism and travel come back to life.
UA 188 (a brand new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner) touched down and came through the celebratory water arch, as Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, South African Minister of Tourism; Mpumi Mpofu, ceo of Acsa and Todd Haskell, Chargé d'Affaires US Mission to South Africa looked on.
Currently, United is the only airline providing a daily nonstop service between Johannesburg and New York, with the arrival of this first flight on Friday, June 4. The new service is operated with state-of-the-art Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, with three cabin classes - business, premium economy and economy.
"United Airlines' launch of daily service between Newark and Johannesburg shows the confidence and connection that binds our two countries. This flight builds a bridge between the United States and South Africa that will open doors for greater trade and investment and inject millions of dollars into South Africa's tourism economy. We are proud to open this new chapter in our relationship," said Todd.
"We are excited to welcome United Airlines as it will definitely boost South Africa's efforts to continue to grow business and leisure tourists' arrivals out of North America. South Africa is ready to welcome back visitors from across the world and is certainly open for business. We look forward to many years of success on this route, as we continue to satisfy the needs of our travellers," said Minister Kubayi-Ngubane.