Snapshot of SA air traffic in new Acsa barometer

Acsa CEO Bongani Maseko (Supplied)
Acsa CEO Bongani Maseko (Supplied)

Johannesburg - Airports Company SA (Acsa) launched its inaugural Aviation Barometer, on Friday.

It is intended to be a quarterly indicator of air traffic movements through its nine airports. The barometer will provide a snapshot of the state of air traffic relating to passengers and cargo and the trends which underpin aeronautical data.

The Acsa Barometer will report on domestic, regional and international arrivals and departures. The inaugural Aviation Barometer covered the first and second quarters of 2016.

It is expected that over time the barometer will provide a useful insight into the status of the aviation industry domestically and could serve as a partial indicator of the performance of the country’s tourism sector through the tracking of international and regional arrivals.

Acsa CEO Bongani Maseko says he is pleased to see that passenger traffic remains strong and consistent across various quarters when compared on a year-on-year basis.

"What stands out in the figures we are publishing today is that SA is maintaining its ability to attract international visitors, while domestic air travel remains resilient,” said Maseko.

“The consistent strength of air travel to and from local and international destinations underpins our aim to continue developing our infrastructure to support long-term economic growth.”

He said the continued development of the aerotropolis zones around Acsa's three largest international airports will create vital business hubs for South Africa and Africa.”

Public consumption

Maseko told Fin24 the aim of the barometer is really for public consumption.

"The industry already has multiple measures, but wanted to improve our communication with the public by publishing relevant info on our website. Then passengers do not need to wait for our annual report to obtain data relevant to them. We will also take input from the public on how to improve our barometer - without breaking the confidentiality of specific airlines of course," said Maseko.

In his view the information in the barometer will also be useful for businesses to determine trends of, for example, international visitors. This could help businesses to benefit from incoming passenger trends by meeting their needs.

He pointed out that, although the barometer will start off on a quarterly basis, Acsa hopes to maybe even make it a monthly release in future if possible.

"The reception of the barometer has been extremely positive. We do not just release data on the number of international and domestic passengers, but we also talk about which are the busiest domestic markets," explained Maseko.

He is proud to be able to say, for instance, that the route between Johannesburg and Cape Town counts among the top 10 busiest so-called city pairs routes in the world.

First period

The first period under review for the barometer covers the first quarter of 2016 from January to March.

Overall departures and arrivals increased by 8.4% and 8.6% respectively when compared with the first quarter of 2015. This was driven chiefly by a strong performance in the domestic market during the summer holiday season and the Easter holidays in March. Total passenger arrivals in the first quarter amounted 4.9 million while total departures amounted to a corresponding 4.47 million passengers.

During the first quarter, domestic arrivals increased by 11.4% to just over 3.4 million passengers when compared to the corresponding period in 2015. With an earlier than usual Easter holiday period in March, there was a significant uptick in passenger numbers during that month to 1.2 million (2015: 1.1 million) arrivals.

Domestic departures in the first quarter showed a corresponding increase of 11.3% to 3.4 million when compared to the prior year. International arrivals increased by 2.3% to 1.3 million with strong growth in January as visa regulations were relaxed for certain markets. International departures were up 3.1% to 1.3 million passengers.

Regional arrivals and departures were relatively subdued with growth of 2% and 1.5% for arrivals and departures respectively. The total number of arrivals was over 120 000 passengers and total departures were recorded at 122 000 passengers.

Second period

During the second quarter of 2016 (from April to June) there were 4.54 million arrivals and 4.69 million departures across the network of airports owned and operated by Acsa, increases of 4.6% and 5.8% respectively compared to 2015.

This performance was due primarily to continued solid growth in domestic arrivals (up 4.9%) and departures (up 6.6%) and an encouraging uptick in in regional passenger traffic. Domestic arrivals and departures are now running at well in excess of 3.2 million per quarter.

The absolute number of passengers through the six regional airports is relatively small compared to domestic and international traffic, running in excess of 130 000 passengers each way per quarter.

However, the second quarter of 2016 showed most encouraging growth with regional arrivals up nearly 7% and departures up by 8.3%.

In spite of continuing challenges and disruptions in the global economy in the second quarter, international
passenger arrivals (up 3.2%) and departures (up 3.6%) maintained reasonable growth compared to the second quarter of 2015.

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