Rumors broke yesterday that United Airlines would be launching nonstop service from Chicago to South Africa next spring. But United has confirmed no such route is planned at this time.
United Airlines Denies Rumors Of Chicago – Johannesburg, South Africa Service
World Airline News claimed that United Airlines would launch new direct flights from Chicago (ORD) to Johannesburg, South Africa (JNB) starting in March 2024 which would represent the first nonstop flights from Chicago to Johannesburg offered by a US airline. The new route was purportedly to be operated by a Boeing 787-9 aircraft.
Had that route taken off, it would have become the longest route by any US carrier and the ninth longest route in the world (8,708 miles).
However, Live And Let’s Fly has confirmed from an inside source at United Airlines that such a route is not only not launching, but not even on the table at this time.
And for good reason…the flights from Washington Dulles and Newark to South Africa are well-timed to collect connections from across the country, including Chicago. While a nonstop flight from Chicago to Johannesburg could add extra capacity during periods of high demand, it would seem more logical to me to add a Washington – Johannesburg (augmenting the current Cape Town service), which would be shorter (less concern over weight restrictions) and represent a logical addition to United’s “Capital to Capital” service (Pretoria is less than an hour from OR Tambo Airport in Johannesburg and has no major airport of its own).
While United will not be adding this particular new route now, it would not surprise me to see it considered in the future if demand continues to pick up to South Africa. While a West Coat nonstop would be ideal and something I would pay a premium for (I love ultra longhaul flights), a San Francisco – Johannesburg flight would be 10,552 miles (or 10,384 miles from Los Angeles)…too far under current aircraft constraints.
United will not add new ORD-JNB service at this time – initial reports are incorrect. I’d love to see such a route, but it simply does not appear practical at this time nor does demand justify it.