Dulles International Airport Celebrates Inaugural United Airlines Flight to Cape Town, South Africa

Robin Tysons Update

New nonstop route launches on airport’s 60th anniversary

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority celebrated the launch of United Airlines’ new nonstop service between Washington, D.C., and Cape Town International Airport in Cape Town, South Africa (CPT), from its hub at Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) on Thursday. The new flights will operate three times per week on a Boeing 787-9 aircraft. The launch date coincided with the airport’s celebration of its 60th anniversary. 

Leaders from United Airlines, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, the Embassy of the Republic of South Africa and the U.S. Departments of State and Transportation cut a ribbon Thursday to celebrate United Airlines’ inaugural flight from Washington to Cape Town. 

“The Airports Authority and our airline partners have been intently focused on growing our service to Africa,” said Jack Potter, Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority president and CEO. “This new Cape Town service further strengthens our region’s already strong links to Africa and highlights United’s continued international expansion at Washington Dulles. And with the opening of the Silver Line Metro station at Dulles, our passengers have more options than ever to travel around the region and around the world.” 

Cape Town has become the newest among more than 140 nonstop destinations served from Dulles International and the 58th international city with nonstop service to the National Capital Region’s gateway to the world. 

At an event prior to the inaugural flight Thursday evening, officials from the Airports Authority, United Airlines, South African Embassy and the U.S. Departments of State and Transportation joined passengers in celebrating the new service. Traditional South African food and drink were provided, along with a performance of a traditional South African music. 

The new flight comes during a historic week for Dulles Airport. Earlier in the week, Metrorail’s Silver Line debuted, providing a new, convenient option for passengers to travel by train directly between Dulles and downtown Washington, D.C. Service began at six new stations, including Dulles Airport, on November 15. The airport also celebrated 60 years of service since its November 17, 1962, dedication. 

“From the opening of the Silver Line Metro station at Dulles to the 60th anniversary of this airport, it has truly been a historic week for our Washington, D.C., hub. Tonight, United is proud to culminate those celebrations by becoming the first airline to provide nonstop roundtrip service from our nation’s capital to Cape Town, South Africa,” said Henry Bird, United’s managing director of airport operations at Dulles International Airport. “With Washington, D.C., being home to the fifth largest South-African-born population, these new flights will not only enrich and connect two capitals with strong cultural ties but also build upon our hub’s growing service to the continent of Africa, where we recently also launched flights to Accra, Ghana, and Lagos, Nigeria.” 

United Airlines has operated a hub at Dulles International for more than 35 years and has served the National Capital Region for over 75 years. United’s Dulles hub currently connects customers to more than 100 nonstop destinations, including convenient service to 25 other capital cities around the world.