South African Airways is scrapping its direct service from Heathrow to Cape Town ahead of the city"s peak season.
All flights will be via Johannesburg from 15th August and all passengers booked on the direct service will either be transferred to the new route or offered a refund.
The airline cites increased competition from both direct and indirect services as the reason.
It also says the market between the UK and South Africa has shrunk by 24% over the last three years due to increased APD and the £52 visa fee for South Africans coming to the UK.
This will be a major blow to tourism in the Western Cape and leaves British Airways as the only carrier to flying direct from London to Cape Town all year round.
Virgin operates a daily direct service from October to late March.
SAA launched its direct service between Cape Town and London in 1992 but since then numerous international airlines have added Cape Town to their routes.
Airlines like Emirates have started flights from Cape Town to Dubai which connect to various other hubs including Heathrow.
"A thorough analysis of the route made it clear that we could use our aircraft more profitably elsewhere while continuing to ensure excellent business and tourism links between the Western Cape and the UK with our significant capacity via Johannesburg," said Theunis Potgieter, SAA"s general manager commercial.
"Anyone who has booked a flight between Cape Town and London after August 15th will be rerouted via Johannesburg at no additional charge," said Potgieter. "Passengers choosing not to be rerouted will be refunded."
SAA currently has two daily services between London Heathrow and Johannesburg and will be increasing its capacity on these flights by 13% through use of larger aircraft to accommodate passengers on this route.
The airline says aircraft will be redeployed to better serve its growing Accra, Mumbai and Perth routes and to add Abidjan to the network.
By Diane Evans
Wednesday, June 6, 2012