Cape Town airport shows highest recovery rate since international travel resumed

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Cape Town International Airport has had its highest recovery rate since international air travel resumed after lockdown restrictions were eased.
Cape Town International Airport has had its highest recovery rate since international air travel resumed after lockdown restrictions were eased.
Fin24/File
  • A new report by Cape Town Air Access shows Cape Town International Airport has had its highest recovery rate since international air travel resumed after lockdown restrictions were eased.
  • The report used data supplied by Airports Company SA to calculate a recovery rate for international and domestic passengers as well as airline capacity.
  • The period over the first three weeks of August this year was compared to the same period in 2019 - therefore, before the negative impact of the pandemic on the airline industry. 


Cape Town International Airport has had its highest post-lockdown recovery rate since international air travel resumed in October 2020, according to the latest Air Route Network Update by Cape Town Air Access.

Cape Town Air Access is an air-route development project housed within Wesgro (Western Cape Tourism, Trade and Investment Promotion Agency).

Using data obtained from Airports Company SA, Cape Town Air Access measured the recovery of airline capacity and passenger numbers by comparing the first three weeks in August this year to the same period in 2019 - therefore, before the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on air travel.

The periods compared were 1 to 21 August 2021, and 1 to 21 August 2019. In 2019, international passenger numbers during the period were 122 599 (arrivals and departures), compared to international passenger numbers of 25 477 (arrivals and departures) in 2021. The unit tracked recovery as a percentage of the 2019 figures. This means that the current period (1 to 21 August 2021) has 21% of the passenger volume recorded compared to the same period in 2019.

Doing the same with domestic passenger numbers - comparing the first three weeks of August 2021 with the same period in 2019 - Cape Town Air Access calculated the passenger recovery to be 36%. 

Flights during the first three weeks of August were on average 84% full - the highest level so far this year.

Looking at international airline capacity, Cape Town Air Access used international air traffic movements (ATMs) - that is the number of international flight arrivals and departures at the airport - to compare the first three weeks in August 2021 to the same period in 2019. The data showed 758 air traffic movements in 2019 compared to 377 in 2021. Cape Town Air Access thus calculated the international airline capacity recovery to be 50%.

International airlines that recently resumed services to Cape Town include Singapore Airlines (twice a week) and Emirates (three times a week). British Airways intends to return to the Mother City from 1 November 2021 with a planned daily service between Cape Town and Heathrow in London, while on the domestic front, Cemair will introduce a daily service between Cape Town and Hoedspruit from 1 September.

Cape Town Air Access expects the recovery to continue "with the incremental addition of flight frequencies and the re-introduction of carrier routes as travel restrictions are relaxed in major source markets". It expects both the domestic and international markets to improve, with increasing domestic and international vaccination rates and the return of more international carriers to Cape Town.

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