United Airlines has received approval to begin Cape Town flights this December, reconnecting the South African city to the USA for the first time in more than a decade.

The US Department of Transportation has granted the Chicago-based Star Alliance carrier three weekly US-South Africa frequencies to begin service between Newark and Cape Town on or around 15 December, the regulator says in its decision.

United, which applied for the authority on 15 April, plans to offer seasonal three-times weekly service on the route with a 252-seat Boeing 787-9 from December through March 2020.

The route will be the first nonstop between the USA and Cape Town since South African Airways ended flights to Atlanta in 2004, Cirium schedule data shows.

Cape Town marks a return to Africa for United. The airline served Accra, Ghana, and Lagos, Nigeria, from 2010 through 2016, schedules show.

United had planned to connect Johannesburg to Washington Dulles in 1993 but never began the service, US DOT records show.

Delta Air Lines is the only US carrier serving South Africa with flights to Johannesburg from Atlanta.

United plans to grow capacity by 4-5% in 2019.

Source: Cirium Dashboard