Lost-cost airline opens new direct route from London to Cape Town!

Scheduled to commence Cape Town operations at the end of October, the airline aims to tap into the popular winter leisure market.

This is a strategic move in a season traditionally challenging for airlines, especially long-haul low-cost carriers, writes Simple Flying.

Norse Atlantic Airways AS is a Norwegian low-cost, long-haul airline headquartered in Arendal, Norway.

Founded in February 2021, the airline operates a fleet of Boeing 787 aircraft between Europe, North America, Asia and now Africa.

What is the new route’s schedule?

The new route covers a distance of 9 607km, making it Norse’s longest service to date. Operating three times a week with Boeing 787-9 aircraft, this route represents a significant expansion for the airline.

It has positioned Cape Town as a new key destination in its network.

The flight schedule for Gatwick-Cape Town is set for departure at 20:00 and arrival at 09:30 the following day, with a flight time of approximately 11 hours and 30 minutes.

The return leg, Cape Town-Gatwick, departs at 11:45 and lands at 21:35, lasting around 11 hours and 50 minutes.

This daytime service sets Norse apart for this route; a departure from the usual overnight flights. While daytime long-haul flights can reduce costs and optimise aircraft usage, it can also mean lower fares and yields.

The move also aligns Norse with Lufthansa and Virgin Atlantic – the other carriers offering daytime services to Europe.

London-Cape Town has become a busy route, with an estimated 340 000 passengers flying the roundtrip last year.

Norse’s entry into this market makes it the third non-stop carrier from London to Cape Town, joining British Airways (BA) and Virgin Atlantic.

And the fares? An airline price comparison

Regarding pricing, Norse’s introductory fares start at £492 (R11 700) for a roundtrip from London to Cape Town in mid-November*. This however excludes additional services like food and checked baggage. This is significantly cheaper than BA and Virgin Atlantic (where, excluding a bag, you will pay £862).

For travellers considering connecting flights for this route, options via Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways, and Qatar Airways can offer less-expensive alternatives.

Qatar Airways’ lowest all-inclusive price is around £643 (R15 300) in November, which is around the same as Norse’s inclusive fare for a direct flight. This does however mean flying via the Middle East, adding significantly more journey time.

*pricing at time of publishing