Cape Town third most popular with BA customers

After SAA withdrew their daily Cape Town – London flights last year, citing lack of demand, British Airways has announced that the route is its third most popular, behind New York and Miami, but notably ahead of the international hubs of Dubai and Hong Kong.

Out of 175 destinations worldwide, only New York and Miami attracted more bookings than Cape Town, with Dubai the fourth most popular choice and Hong Kong the fifth.

Yeah – that’s what I just said.

Anyway, the apparent upshot of this news is that Cape Town may well be among the first cities to see BA’s new Boeing 787 “Dreamliner” aircraft, which are due for delivery in May this year.

BA’s Dreamliners will be configured to carry 214 passengers, with 35 seats in business class, 25 in economy plus and 154 in economy.
Not only will they have the latest Thales in-flight entertainment system, with larger screens in all cabins, but they will also allow personal devices, including laptops, to be connected, using in-seat power.

Which is all very nice, but doesn’t really make sense to me, given that this is one of their most popular routes and that the Boeing 747-400s which BA currently uses on the CPT-LHR route can carry almost twice as many passengers as the Dreamliner.

Here’s a really popular route. Let’s immediately halve the capacity of our flights on it.

How very SAA.

And for those of you who are wondering why BA doesn’t go the other ways and use something really huge, like an A380 on the Cape Town run, it’s because BA don’t own any A380s at the moment (they’ll get their first one in August) (yes, I was shocked at this too). And even if they did, Cape Town’s runway is too short to accommodate the big Airbus.


While Air France and Lufthansa both use A380s on their Joburg routes, the only sight Cape Town gets of them is during ceremonial flyovers.

4 thoughts on “Cape Town third most popular with BA customers

  1. Possibly the Dreamliner will operate at out of peak times (March – October) and free up the 747/Larger Airbus for other routes during the Northern Hemisphere summer.
    Either that or operate 2 services to Cape Town as they do now but with smaller more efficient aircraft.

  2. Reflex > Yes: agree with first option in principle, but as CPT is third most popular route, it must be pretty full all the time, right? Or does that mean that their less popular routes are running below 50% capacity at all times?

  3. I think the first paragraph sums it up:

    Cape Town is the third most popular destination for British Airways customers this season, according to Daniel Bainbridge, the airline’s commercial development manager in South Africa.

    These figures were based on a season which is more than likely the last months of the year (October – December). It also matches the season that Virgin Atlantic resume direct flights to Cape Town and BA launch their 2 a day service to CPT.
    For the rest of the year only BA have a direct flight from CPT – LHR and when I have flown to London out of season (say June/July) on BA then it hasn’t been particularly full.

    As for their other routes, I have flown on pretty nearly empty planes to European destinations so at out of peak times I would guess that the routes are flying at less than 50% capacity. BA still have to fly them though as they are a scheduled airline and they need to maintain their slots.

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