South Africa’s airports experienced a growth in international arrivals for 2015, with Cape Town International Airport ending the year with a notable 8,9% increase, compared with a growth of 6,5% at King Shaka International Airport and 5% at OR Tambo International Airport.

Martin Jansen van Vuuren, Director at Grant Thornton, said Cape Town had seen a growth in international arrivals due to an increase in direct flights to the city, such as the recent deal with Turkish Airlines. He added that more international flights, such as routes serviced by Kenya Airways and Ethiopian Airlines, were also rerouting to Cape Town.

Wesgro CEO, Tim Harris, said Ethiopian Airlines’ six times a week direct return flight from Addis Ababa was one of “the most exciting developments in 2015”, together with the non-stop daily flight from Istanbul on Turkish Airlines. He added that KLM/Air France had increased its frequencies to a year-round daily flight and that these increased international routes connected Cape Town to major global hubs with strong onward connectivity to Europe, North America, Asia and India.

Harris said establishing a direct route to North America was a priority for the Cape Town Air Access team and that capacities to and from the UK were also set to increase in 2016. “The next year holds great promise for air access, with direct flights to two more SADC neighbours taking off in the next few months and another connection with a major African hub under negotiation.”

In December, Cape Town International Airport handled 88 608 international travellers. Jansen van Vuuren said the airport was becoming more attractive to international travellers as it had the facilities and capacity to handle large volumes of travellers.

Colin Naidoo, Manager: Communications and Brand at King Shaka International Airport (KSIA), said the airport was well connected internationally, especially after Ethiopian Airlines commenced flights to and from Addis Ababa on December 16 and Qatar Airways began its Doha-Durban service on December 17.

He added that Turkish Airlines offered direct flights between Istanbul and Durban; Air Mauritius offered a Mauritius-Durban route; Emirates offered a Dubai-Durban route; and Proflight operated directly to Lusaka from KSIA.