African air economy growth to dominate as major aviation conference underway in Cape Town

2018-06-13 06:30 - Selene Brophy
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IATA data expects 10 of the fastest growing aviation economies over the next 20 years to come from Africa, putting air connectivity across the continent firmly on the agenda as the third AviaDev Africa Conference gets underway.

Some 250 delegates from across the globe, including specialists in the aviation sector have gathered in the Mother City, as Cape Town's Direct Routes Access leads the conference aimed at growing connectivity to, from and within the African continent. These include stakeholders from key airports, airlines, tourism authorities, governments and industry suppliers.

With Cape Town playing host to the conference for the first time Wesgro CEO, Tim Harris says, “Better air connectivity has boosted trade in goods and services as well as tourism. We are excited to host the conference and be a part of facilitating growth in this sector, further validating Cape Town as the gateway to the rest of Africa.”

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

Boding well for the conference is the recent launch of a direct flight to Cape Town from Rwanda, the 2017 hosts - with Jon Howell, Managing Director of AviaDev highlighting this as an outcome based on discussions that took place at AviaDev 2017.

"I am delighted that this forum truly does connect and foster route development for Africa,” says Howell. 

Having secured 13 new routes and 17 route expansions, adding over 1,5 million two-way seats to Cape Town International Paul van den Brink, Air Access’s Project Manager says, “Quarter 1 of this year shows a positive 12% growth from the rest of Africa into Cape Town International Airport, this is the highest growth recorded compared to inbound flights from other continents. With access to key aviation decision makers, we look forward to finding synergies and navigating more routes from Cape Town to the rest of Africa.”

In the last year alone Cape Town has seen a 20% growth in international passengers with an estimated R4bn in direct tourism spend.  

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

Recently added routes improving connectivity to South Africa include Alitalia connectivity between SA and Europe, re-launching its Johannesburg to Rome route after initially cutting the long-haul service about 17 years ago. 

Joon now also connects Paris to Cape Town three times a week since 1 April 2018. 

READ MORE: Alitalia launches new direct SA flight route with lesser-known Italy and cruise tourism drawcards for locals 

The programme kicked off on Tuesday evening, 12 June with Executive Mayor Patricia de Lille and Premier Helen Zille addressing delegates at the official Welcoming Reception. The conference will follow with a series of talks from key aviation industry players. 

Premier Helen Zille says, “Our vision remains to not only make the Western Cape the gateway to the rest of Africa, but the easiest place to do business on the continent. We will continue building strategic partnerships that create jobs and drive economic growth.”  

Minister of Economic Opportunities, Alan Winde says, “Expanding air access between Cape Town and the rest of Africa is integral to developing our economy and creating new jobs. This conference brings together all of the people who have the expertise and experience in these areas to network in Cape Town. We welcome the delegates to our province and we hope that their discussions are productive."

READ MORE: #AfriTravel: Mother City welcomes new trendy airline Joon