Cape Town Air Access has become one of the most successful route development projects in the world and is now exporting its success formula to Gauteng, Nelson Mandela Bay and Mpumalanga, says Wesgro CEO, Tim Harris.

During an annual review of the project, he said CTAA would advise Gauteng, Nelson Mandela Bay and Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport on how to grow their route networks. “We are one of the few destinations in the world that collaborates between different spheres of government and the private sector to improve connectivity. This idea of collaboration to build aviation hubs is an idea that is taking on around South Africa. We will be rolling out this collaborative approach at World Routes in Australia in September, where we will be on the Team South Africa pavilion supported by SA Tourism and Acsa, featuring Cape Town, Durban Direct and Gauteng Air Access. This is not just a Cape Town story. It is becoming something that South Africa is doing.”

Since its inception four years ago, CTAA has almost doubled Cape Town’s air access. “This has only been possible because of the collaboration that has turned it into one of the most successful route development projects in the world,” Harris said.  

Latest developments include the signing up of the V&A Waterfront as a new private sector partner; the resumption of Air Botswana services to Cape Town on March 1; Qatar Airways adding three frequencies, totalling 10 weekly flights from October; and discussions with Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport about more connections to Cape Town.

Harris said, overall, international arrivals (non-stop and via other destinations) to Cape Town grew by 2% last year despite the drought and a 4.5% capacity decline between Johannesburg and Cape Town, all of which resulted in a significant drop in arrivals from the UK, Namibia, the Netherlands, Australia and the UAE.

Despite this, three new airlines had added four new destinations to Cape Town’s route network: RwandAir (via Harare to Kigali), Austrian Airlines (Vienna) and Cathay Pacific (Hong Kong). Seven route expansions included Kenya Airways to Nairobi, TAAG to Luanda, Airlink to Maun, Air Namibia to Windhoek, Condor to Frankfurt, Edelweiss to Zürich and Singapore Airlines to Singapore. All this resulted in 150 000 extra international seats to Cape Town and an 8.5% (non-stop) international capacity growth. Harris said four African airlines now connected Cape Town to eight destinations on the continent, representing 400 000 additional seats from Africa.

Business-class arrivals increased by 9% in 2018, including a 133% growth in business arrivals from Brazil, making a strong case for a direct air link between Cape Town and Brazil, Harris said.

Economic Opportunities MEC, Beverley Schäfer, stressed the importance of CTAA securing a direct link to North America and to increase access to Africa in the coming year.

City of Cape Town Mayoral Committee Member for Economic Opportunities and Asset Management, James Vos, said the city had agreed to increase its funding to CTAA, which was estimated to have contributed R6bn (US$414m) in direct tourism spend since July 2015.

Cape Town International Airport GM, Deon Cloete, said CTAA’s success had doubled seat capacity at the airport, with 1.5m two-way seats since 2015, and had sparked the R7bn (US$484m) expansion of the airport, involving a new runway and new domestic and international terminals. “We are finalising tender documents and will be starting construction next year,” he said.