Cape Town International sees 9.6% growth in international travellers as e-gate pilot widely anticipated

2019-01-14 10:30 - Selene Brophy
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Cape Town International Airport saw a healthy spike in international travel for 2018, despite the drought and other challenges experienced by the region. 

IN 2018 2,6 million international passengers were recorded by Cape Town International Airport, representing a 9,6% growth from 2017, according to a joint statement by the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape Government.

The growth is attributed to long-haul carriers from outside the Southern African region. 

Overall passenger numbers grew from 10 693 063 in 2017 to 10 777 524 in 2018, equating to an increase of 84 000 additional passengers passing through the airport, at a growth rate of 0,8%. 

The numbers also reflect a slight decline of 1,4% in domestic passengers for the year.

During the peak period of December 2018, international passenger numbers grew by 3,7%, while domestic passenger numbers declined by 0,8%, year-on-year.

These numbers include all traffic through the domestic and international terminals (arrivals and departures), and may include repeat travellers throughout the year. 

UPDATE: What travellers need to know about SA's airport e-gates and e-visas pilots

It will be interesting to see how passenger facilitation improves in the year ahead. In September 2019 the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) confirmed it would piloting e-gates at three of South Africa's main airports, including Cape Town International, OR Tambo in Johannesburg and Durban's King Shaka International.

While initial roll-out was pegged for the first quarter of 2019, no official start date has been released. 

SEE: 9 New flight routes from SA to get excited about in 2019

Make 2019 your year to travel more with the top routes added for locals in 2018. Bed down that travel goal by searching sales or flights prices for these airlines to get you started.  

Here's to a wanderlust-filled 2019!

1. Singapore

Whether you're on a connecting flight through this small island city-state, or making it your destination of choice, expect to experience one of the most culture-rich places on Earth. One of the sights in the Lion City is actually its airport. Singapore Changi Airport serves as a vital connection as it is one of the largest transportation hubs in Southeast Asia.  

South Africans can now take advantage of visiting, as Singapore Airlines added new daily flights to Cape Town, via Johannesburg in March 2018. But, since South African travellers get to enter Singapore without a visa, it would be criminal to only stay within the airport's borders. Click here to search flights    

Boost for your holiday plans: Quick Guide to Singapore: Visa-free travel for South Africans

 2. Rome, Italy

Alitalia has upped connectivity between SA and Europe, re-launching its Johannesburg to Rome route after initially cutting the long-haul service about 17 years ago. The airline is operating a 250-seat Airbus A330-200 configured in Magnifica business class, premium economy and economy class. Click here to search flights   

The flight is also key to the European summer season planning, with the point to point connectivity being a night flight – arriving in the morning in both OR Tambo and Rome Fiumicino Airport. Added to that, the Italian Tourism Board is developing niche programmes for SA travellers, encouraging them to explore Italy beyond the main, popular cities such as Rome, Milan and Venice.  

Boost for your holiday plans:  Quick Guide to Italy: Mamma Mia of your Italy trip planning sorted!

3. London, United Kingdom

London is a frenetic city, dealing with its own Brexit woes. However, its appeal for South Africans visiting family or friends, even with the murderous pound exchange rate, remains. In 2018 two key airlines Virgin Atlantic and British Airways improved connectivity to the iconic city. 

In October British Airways launched its three weekly flights from Durban to Heathrow, London - also improving its connectivity via OR Tambo in Johannesburg. 

Virgin Atlantic in turn added a second daily route via Johannesburg, operating its Boeing 787-9 aircraft and thereby adding an additional 188 000 seats between Johannesburg and London Heathrow.  Click here to search flights   

READ MORE: Dream 2019 holidays to plan for: Where South Africans are heading

4. Harare, Zimbabwe

Every South African should experience the magic of Vic Falls. And Rwandan Airline is making the border-crossing break more competitive by extending its Kigali-Harare route to include Cape Town, becoming the first airline to have direct flights between the Zimbabwean capital and the Mother City. Click here to search flights   

Quick Guide Zimbabwe: Visa-free travel for South Africans


 5. Paris, France

Joon began a direct service to the Mother City earlier this year, currently operating five weekly non-stop flights to Paris. Speaking to Traveller24 Joon CEO Jean Michel Mathieu says the airline is adapting beyond the travel experience for the next generations as customer expectations evolve with digital connectivity.

The airline aims to offer all its customers an innovative experience. They’ve added their own in-flight YouJoon streamed entertainment service, including movies, TV-shows and fresh news.

Families are also tired of cramped air travel, and will also love their tailored concept - Cosy Joon - offered on their Airbus 340. It allows them to book four seats across two rows which can then be transformed into a family coach unit. Click here to search flights   

Quick Guide to France: Vive la wanderlust

6. Hong Kong, China

The latest route in Cathay Pacific's network gives locals more access to the heart of Asia. The airline celebrated the launch of its new seasonal, non-stop service between Cape Town and Hong Kong in November. The route will be running until 17 February. Click here to search flights  

Quick guide to Hong Kong: Visa-free travel for South Africans

7. Zanzibar, Tanzania

Dubbed a ‘sensation of the senses’, Zanzibar is an island delight for those looking to explore not only the mother continent but also enjoy a fine tropical escape. In March, Mango added a Thursday flight to their existing Tuesday and Saturday departures from OR Tambo International Airport. Click here to search flights

Quick Guide to Tanzania: Visa-Free travel for South Africans  

8. Nairobi, Kenya

 Kenya ranks the 4th largest source market to the Western Cape, with statistics revealing significant double digit growth of 29.5% of visitors to the destination in 2017, when compared to 2016. 

As a result Kenya Airways now operates five non-stop flights a week between Cape Town and Nairobi after increasing its capacity earlier this year. It means access to Kenya’s renowned attractions – including its flourishing national wildlife reserves are easily within reach.  Click here to search flights   

Quick Guide to Kenya: Visa-free travel for South Africans

9. Vienna, Austria 

Vienna has much to offer South African travellers - using its charming culture, history and general beauty to attract around 24 000 South African tourists to Austria's capital last year.

This year Austrian Airlines returned to SA after an absence of 19 years, launching a seasonal route bookable until March 2019 - and offering two flight per week between Cape Town and Vienna. Click here to search flights   

WATCH: See whip-crackers unite at this festival in Austria

Find Your Escape by searching and comparing flight prices here. You can also sign-up for the Traveller24 Weekly Newsletter – Subscribe hereOr download the News24 App hereto receive expertly curated travel ideas and deals directly to your mobile.