Cape Town's formula for success
Cape Town continues to buck the trend and its International Airport is expected to reach a milestone in the next few weeks - 10 million passengers in a year for the first time.
The success is said to be largely due to the Western Cape's Cape Town Air Access initiative, which also led to the creation of about 16,000 jobs and a R3-billion injection from tourism.
"We've seen exceptional growth and expect to pass the 10million passengers mark in the next few weeks," said Airports Company of SA spokesman Deidre Davids.
"On our busiest days we process up to 39,000 passengers, [pump] as much 2.2million litres of fuel and move nearly 20,000 bags."
The provincial government, in partnership with the City of Cape Town, Acsa and Cape Town Tourism, "opened" its skies to improve access by air. As a result new jobs, more tourism and increased spending flew into the region.
By securing six new routes and eight route expansions into the province, the initiative has resulted in an increase in the Western Cape's air arrivals of more than 500,000 passengers.
Western Cape MEC for economic opportunities Alan Winde said that tourism employed 204,000 people in the province, and that each regular schedule long-haul flight supported 3,000 jobs.
"For every 10% increase in passenger numbers the regional economy grows by 2%. These figures illustrate the value of increased air access," said Winde.
"International air arrivals into Cape Town are increasing by 22% a year. British Airways this summer added three Boeing 777-200 flights from Gatwick to Cape Town to meet increased demand.
"Last week Lufthansa launched its all-year, non-stop flight between Frankfurt and Cape Town."
Davids said the growth had put pressure on Acsa's arrivals and departures systems. "Although the operational teams have put various plans in place, queues will be unavoidable. Passengers need to remember to arrive at the airport early."
Winde said that a team was working on improving the African route network, on establishing a direct route to North America, and on getting more direct flights to Asia scheduled.