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Seven new US-Africa flight routes planned

afrol News, 12 November - The Atlanta-based US airliner Delta Air Lines today announced it is planning to launch seven new flights connecting North America and Africa. New connections from Atlanta will go to South Africa, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, Angola, Equatorial Guinea, Senegal and Cape Verde. New York is to be connected with South Africa and Nigeria.

The large expansion into Africa announced by Delta comes after the airliner merged with Northwest Airlines, and some of the new routes replace earlier connections offered by Northwest. Atlanta - an inland city in the Atlantic Coast state of Georgia - is replacing New York as the major Africa hub as consequence of the merger and the new flights.

The only daily flight service among the newly announced connections is to go between Atlanta and Johannesburg, South Africa's major airport. The daily flights will start on 1 June 2009 and the airliner plans to use Boeing 777 machines. Delta however notes that this flight remains subject to government approval. The airliner had applied with US authorities "today", a Delta press release said.

The second-most frequent route, between Atlanta and Nairobi, Kenya, East Africa's major airport, is to be trafficked four times weekly. The new connection, which is to served by a Boeing 767, is to start up on 2 June 2009, the flight also being subject to approval from US authorities.

Delta also is to launch a three-time weekly connection between Atlanta and Cape Town, South Africa's leading tourist destination, on 1 June next year. The flight is to make stop-overs in Dakar, Senegal, West Africa's leading air connection hub. The Atlanta-Dakar-Cape Town flight is to replace the current connection between Cape Town and New York, according to Delta. That means that the only non-stop Dakar - New York route will now be run by South African Airways, which still offers daily flights on this destination.

Two more twice-weekly connections to and from Atlanta were announced. This includes flights to Abuja, Nigeria, with a stop-over on Cape Verde's Sal Island, marking the Nigerian capital's first flight connection with North America. Also, Atlanta will have twice-weekly connections with Luanda, Angola, the regional oil capital, with stop-overs in Cape Verde. Also this marks the first-ever direct connection to the US by a major airliner for the Angolan capital.

Finally, two weekly African connections to Atlanta were announced. The Georgian capital is to get flights to both Monrovia in Liberia, and Malabo in Equatorial Guinea. Both these connections will have stopovers in Sal Island, Cape Verde. Equatorial Guinea has a large oil industry dominated by US companies.

The big winner among African airports is the Cape Verdean airport on Sal, which will have almost daily connections with Atlanta due to stop-overs if all the planned flights are approved by authorities. Sal airport, on the most tourism developed island of the archipelago, has traditions as a fuel tanking stop-over on trans-Atlantic flights, but has never been thus good connected to the large potential American tourism market.

Finally, Delta also announced several flights between New York's JFK airport and Lagos in Nigeria. The airliner foresees five flights a week between the two cities, starting on 9 June 2009 and using a Boeing 767 aircraft. Lagos is West Africa's largest city and also the oil capital of the region. Nigeria therefore will get two direct flights to the US next year, if the connections are approved.

The new routes were said to be part of a broader international network that Delta has planned as a key benefit of its merger with Northwest. Several routes have also experienced cuts, but all in all, the number of connections is increasing. As consequence of the merger, Delta is now the world's biggest airliner and Atlanta is becoming one of the major hubs in US air traffic.

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