SA Travel Trends: Durban and Cape Town lead air passenger growth ahead of festive season

2017-11-28 11:45 - Selene Brophy
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(Photo: Acsa)

Cape Town - Air travel, but specifically domestic air travel is on the increase in South Africa, with King Shaka International in Durban and Cape Town International leading the charge.

Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) has released its Quarter 3 Aviation Barometer for the period between July to September 2017 - indicating the current air travel trends in SA.

The Barometer is based on the count of passengers using the network of nine airports owned and managed by Acsa , with some 2.5-million arriving and departing passengers resulting in a 5% increase in the third quarter. 

Overall King Shaka International Airport saw the biggest growth at 7.9%, while Cape Town International Airport saw an equally healthy 6.6%. 

Acsa reports both airports saw good uptake in domestic travel at 8.7% and 8.3% increase, respectively.

SEE: #FindYourEscape: 25 new flight routes and expansions SA travellers can take advantage of 

However, it is Cape Town International that happens to be driving strong international growth as international arrivals were up by 20.4%, and international departures were up by 22.5%. 

Cape Town Air Access - the direct routes partnership, based at Wesgro, between the Western Cape Government, the City of Cape Town, Airports Company of South Africa, Cape Town Tourism and now also South African Tourism - is largely accredited for this spike.

Since its launch in 2015, the project has landed ten new routes and 11 route expansions, adding over 650 000 seats and thereby helping Cape Town International Airport (CTIA) reach the 10 million passengers mark for the first time in 2016 - with 2017 alone seeing an increase of 400 000 new two way international airline seats to the city.

While OR Tambo International Airport operates off a higher base of more than 20 million passengers a year, it saw total passenger numbers rise by a marginal 2.9%, an increase of 154 445 passengers. 

At the beginning of October the Johannesburg-based airport was largely plagued by a wave of follow-home crimes - with all stakeholders concerned subsequently ramping up security efforts - ahead of the peak summer season.

SEE: OR Tambo follow-home arrests: ‘Expect more heightened security’ 

Acsa says among regional airports, George Airport continues to experience strong growth, with total passenger numbers rising by 8.5%. Also, domestic air travel recovered somewhat after a decline in the second quarter, with arrivals up by 4.6% and departures rising by 4.9%. 

With Airlink and FlySafair announcing plans to apply to the Competition Commission for approval to unite under the common umbrella of the Airlink group of companies - connectivity and choice for local travellers can only get better going forward if it is approved.

The airlines have indicated that they would retain their respective products‚ aircraft fleets‚ management and leadership teams - with no reductions in staff expected either.  

SEE: FlySafair ups frequencies on popular SA summer routes

While Airlink recently had an issue with one of its  planes needing to make an emergency landing, FlySafair has been robust in its route and fleet growth. The airline added two new Boeing 737-400s to its fleet, which is helping to fulfill its additional capacity requirements with the launch of flights between Durban and Port Elizabeth, and Durban and East London. 

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