Cape Town - New airlines and direct routes to King Shaka and Cape Town International Airports have guaranteed a stand-out passenger performance, especially for the Durban-based airport according to Airports Company South Africa's (Acsa) Aviation Barometer for the third quarter of 2016.
Acsa says the total arrivals and total departures figures for the update period from July to September 2016 show that passenger numbers maintained a steady increase when compared to the third quarter of 2015.
"During this quarter, we recorded 4.98 million total arrivals and 4.77 million total departures across our network of airports. This is an increase of 4.4% compared to the same period in 2015," says Refentse Shinners, Group Executive: Corporate Affairs for Acsa.
"The growth in air traffic continues to underline the aviation sector’s resilience during challenging economic conditions."
“The standout figures are from King Shaka International Airport where total arrivals and departures were up by 8.4%, thanks to new airlines using the airport and other airlines introducing new flights,” says Shinners.
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"As indicated by the growth, we anticipate it will continue and have therefore needed to improve our passenger capacity and facilitation - hence the new smart security system."
According to Shinners, the new system which is being piloted at OR Tambo International costs an estimated R35m and based on its effectiveness Acsa will assess how it will further invest in terms of smarts security.
SA's OR Tambo International Airport has become the first African airport to implement the Smart Security checkpoint that will digitise the security check process, speed up passenger progress through security and further enhance security through the use of state-of-the-art scanners.
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The pilot implementation of the Smart Security went live during the first week of November at the international departures security point at the airport, and so far, systems are running smoothly.
"For us it is important to encourage travellers to try it out," says Shinners as old system is still in place despite the new pilot at international departures.
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In addition, the runway re-alignment at Cape Town International is also aimed at accommodating the forecasted increase in traffic, says Shinners.
Acsa in May 2015 announced a R7.7bn expansion plan for Cape Town International, which included the upgrading of its domestic and international terminals and the realignment of its runway, expected to be done in 2017.
International passenger increases
International arrivals also indicated a 5.5% increase while departures rose by 5.7% compared to the third calendar quarter of 2015 driven by the northern hemisphere’s summer season.
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As the new security system is expected to improve passenger facilitation - the processing times through immigration control have been a contentious issue due to the department of home affairs requirement for all first-time foreign visitors to submit full biometric data when visiting SA. Industry stakeholders have raised concerns about this with the looming festive season spike.
Shinners says, "As Acsa we pre-plan for the peak season and we now have the benefits of experience following the delays over the past three months. While we don't have control over the numbers we would like to ensure we make the passenger experience more comfortable."
Added to this, Shinners also recommend passengers look at using the new self-service bag drop as a means to pass through the airport faster.