40m+ passengers in 2017 and counting, as SA's airports push on with new routes

2018-05-17 10:41 - Kavitha Pillay
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Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) shared its Aviation Barometer, a quarterly release of passenger traffic through nine of South Africa’s major airports.

According to ACSA’s findings, more than 40 million passengers have passed through these airports during the 2017/2018 financial year.

“The 40-million figure was achieved in spite of more modest passenger figures for the months of January to March, which saw growth of 2.48% compared to the same period in 2017,” ACSA says in a statement.

It adds that the numbers gathered are a year-on-year comparison that provide a snapshot of air travel trends. “This will help various stakeholders to track the sector’s performance and assess the impact of the macro and micro-economic factors of air traffic,” says ACSA.

SEE: #AfriTravel: King Shaka and Cape Town take top spots in World Airport Awards

ACSA says that the total number of passengers from all nine airports in the 2017/18 financial year was 41.49 million. This is an increase of 4% over the previous financial year when passenger growth was 3.2%.

Here are some of ACSA’s major findings for each of the main airports:

Cape Town International Airport

ACSA says that the Mother City’s airport continues to attract international travellers and experienced a growth of almost 10% between January to March.

“Cape Town International Airport continued its strong performance in attracting international passengers and airlines, with a growth of 16% for the year,” says ACSA.

Wesgro’s Air Access Programme certainly contributed to this growth and will continue playing a major role in increasing passengers at the airport by facilitating the growing number of direct flights to the city from all over the world.

Since its inception in 2015, the Air Access programme has gained 13 new routes, and 14 route expansions, increasing capacity to Cape Town by more than 1.5 million seats in both directions.

SEE: Cape Town Air Access celebrates 13 new routes and 14 expansions since 2015

Here are more direct routes to the city launching in 2018:

  • On 6 June, Kenya Airways offers new direct non-stop service between Cape Town and Nairobi - 3 times per week.
  • On 27 October, Austrian Airlines will begin seasonal direct flights from Cape Town to Vienna - 2 times per week.
  • On 13 November, Cathay Pacific's will start seasonal direct non-stop service from Cape Town to Hong Kong - 3 times per week.

King Shaka International Airport

Durban’s airport continued to build its domestic passenger base, according to ACSA, with a growth of 8.47% in the first three months of 2018.

For the financial year, the airport experienced the highest growth - with passenger numbers increasing by 7.7% to 5.64 million.

SEE: King Shaka hits record 5.5m passengers as direct Durban-London route plans continue

This number is sure to increase in the future as King Shaka International Airport will now operate a new direct route to London’s Heathrow International with British Airways. It is massive news for Durban, which has not had a direct scheduled flights to London or Europe for more than two decades.

SEE: UPDATE: Durban secures British Airways for new direct route to London Heathrow

OR Tambo International Airport

Johannesburg’s airport remains Africa’s largest and busiest airport, “with a total of 21.23 million passengers in the financial year,” says ACSA.

Regional airports

The six regional airports saw total passenger growth of 3.78% in the year.

“George Airport was the standout performer with passenger growth of 8.5%, putting it over the 800 000 passenger mark for the first time,” says ACSA.

It’s no surprise as George Airport is a gateway to the beautiful Garden Route. In addition to this, the airport recently came out tops as Africa’s best airport in the category under two million passengers per year.

ALSO SEE: Two SA airports clinch best in Airport Service Quality awards

ACSA’s Passenger Stats

The total number of passengers using ACSA’s airports was 1.6 million higher than in the previous financial year.

ACSA’s report shows that while domestic and international arrivals and departures have increased in the last financial year, regional arrivals and departures have decreased.

While the latter is concerning at a time when intra-African travel is encouraged, there is hope that the already growing flight connectivity between African countries, and the Africa Union’s launch of the Single African Air Transport Market, will enhance air travel connectivity and boost regional business and leisure tourism.

SEE: #AfriTravel: January launch date set for the Single African Air Transport Market

Here are the passenger numbers from ACSA for arrivals and departures to SA’s airports:


  • Domestic arrivals experienced an increase of 79 540 passengers, a 2.36% increase from the previous year;
  • Domestic departures increased by 91 499, a 2.70% increase from the same period last year.


  • International arrivals increased by 3.68%, which translates to an extra 53 394 passengers, bringing the total to 1 502 516 passengers;
  • International departures rose by 2.10%, with an increase of 30 850 passengers, totalling 1 496 737 passengers.

Regional (Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland)

  • Regional arrivals decreased by 1.55% to 119 602 passengers;
  • Regional departures decreased by 1.03% to 122 135 passengers.

See more stats here: