Cape Town - Travellers love South Africa. We know this for a fact. However the latest passenger data from Acsa’s Aviation Barometer proves that the country, despite its many challenges, is on the rise as a destination of choice.
Airports Company South Africa says it broke records and achieved a historic milestone in 2016 with its network of nine airports reaching and passing the 39 million passenger mark for the year. At the end of December 2016, 39.7 million passengers had been facilitated, a 5.4% increase from 2015.
Add to that they did so by clinching recognition for being the top ten most on-time airports in the world recently published by UK travel analysts OAG with Cape Town ranking 6th, OR Tambo in 8th and Durban ranked 10th in the world on OAG's small airport punctuality list.
SEE: 3 SA airports listed as world's most punctual
Route connectivity and development has also made a big impact with no fewer than 20 new routes, flight schedule increase and passenger capacity increases made by airlines servicing the country - here are some of the highlights - New SA flight routes travellers can take advantage of in 2017
But as Acsa faces the implementation of a 35% Passenger tax cuts, it will be interesting to see how the airport deals the cuts into its budget in the year ahead - with a runway realignment in Cape Town, as well as terminal expansions and security upgrades on the cards.
SEE: Comair: Acsa's 35% passenger tax cut is not enough
39.7 million passengers in total, up 5%
SA’s three main international gateways all achieved significant firsts with King Shaka showing the highest overall growth.
OR Tambo International Airport remains SA’s largest airport, exceeding 20 million passengers serviced in 2016. Reporting a 3.8% increase - the airport had a number of operational challenges in 2016.
Floods severely affected certain parts of the airport in November last year as did facilitation of international passengers due to new biometric requirements for first time international visitors to the airport. The airport also made significant upgrade to security systems at the airport, with the new system being piloted at OR Tambo International costing an estimated R35m.
SEE: Everything you need to know about the new Security System at OR Tambo
Refentse Shinners, Group Executive: Corporate Affairs for Acsa previously told Traveller24, “growth in air traffic continues to underline the aviation sector’s resilience during challenging economic conditions”.
Cape Town International Airport also passed the major milestone of 10 million passengers, with route development and enhancements to the city underscoring the growth.
While the realignment of the airport’s runway has been a key issue for Acsa to ensure future growth, in 2016 the airport managed to ensure a 7.3% improvement when compared to 2015.
Annual Passenger Statistics
Domestic Arrivals rose to 13.6 million passengers, an increase of 5.3% from the previous year. Domestic Departures also experienced an increase with 13.7 million passengers, a 5.3% increase from 2015.
International Arrivals increased by 5.3% with 5.4 million passengers whilst International Departures rose by a notable 5.8% to 5.5 million passengers. Regional (Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho & Swaziland): Travel to neighbouring countries remained healthy with Regional Arrivals going up by 6.0% to 567 254 passengers, whilst Regional Departures went up 6.4% with 565 702 passengers due to the festive season.
Quarterly Passenger Statistics
Domestic traffic growth in the fourth quarter of 2016 slowed down, with Arrivals only increasing by 1.4% and Departures only going up by a marginal 1.2% compared to the same period in 2015.
The strongest driver of passenger growth in the final quarter was International Departures, which saw a growth of 7.5% and International Arrivals with a recorded 7.1% increase. This was also due to the summer holidays, which is traditionally one of the busiest travel seasons in South Africa.
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