AIRPORTS Company South Africa (Acsa) revealed its wish-list to Travel News at the recent AviaDev Conference in Cape Town.
The airport operator hopes to establish air links to every major African city from each of its major airports in South Africa. This includes, amongst other desired routes, Johannesburg to Malawi, and Cape Town to Mozambique, and a non-stop long-haul US service into Durban.
Passenger traffic at South Africa’s largest airports is in full recovery, but Traffic Development Specialist at Acsa and the company’s Group Interim Manager for Traffic Development, Mpho Rambau, said Acsa wanted more international flights from each of its three prize assets – Cape Town International Airport, OR Tambo International Airport and Durban King Shaka International Airport.
Chatting with Travel News at AviaDev Africa 2022 Route Development Conference in Cape Town CPT last week, Rambau said the company had built up a diverse number of assets across multiple provinces. He said passenger numbers had recovered to around 73% of pre-COVID-19 figures across its whole airport network, and about 80% at CTIA.
Although OR Tambo remains Acsa’s largest and busiest airport in Africa, Acsa had identified several opportunities for its CPT and DUR sites, Rambau said. He expected that flights to Zambia (Lusaka) from CPT and DUR, and Mozambique ex-CPT, could be among the easiest African network goals to achieve. Over and above flights to Malawi ex-JNB, Acsa also hoped to grow lift into Central Africa, especially the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Brazzaville, he said.
“OR Tambo is our largest asset and our busiest airport in Africa, but our biggest goal is to grow our Africa network from Cape Town and KwaZulu Natal,” Rambau explained. “We are trying to enhance our current offering to ensure the long-term visibility of each and every major African city.”
About the possibility of landing another direct US service, he said: “Delta and United Airlines already fly to JNB and CPT, but we have three prized assets we would like to develop into hubs, each in its own right.”
Although established local airlines have moved to replace some of the domestic airline seat capacity that has been lost due to Comair’s collapse, Rambau insisted there was still a massive gap and noted that the drop in supply had caused ticket prices to go up. “It is not good for the lower LSM markets,” he said.
Rambau could not be drawn to comment on rumours about possible new entrants circling SA’s domestic skies, however, he said: “New airlines are always something we (Acsa) welcome. Ultimately, it is good for the consumer.”
Travel’s recovery means Acsa can also start to think about other projects paused due to COVID-19. This includes work to be able to accommodate larger long-haul aircraft like the Airbus A380 at CTIA, which had to be shelved during the pandemic when Acsa faced liquidity issues.
More than 280 aviation specialists and stakeholders were represented at last week’s three-day AviaDev conference, and Acsa was clearly ready to do business. Rambau said: “It is an event we have supported since its inception. We have found it a good platform to access all African airlines and explore opportunities to enhance our airport network.”
See our conference round-up here.