Cape Town’s Soaring Ambitions: One Million Seats and Counting
In an astonishing feat of growth and resilience, Cape Town is set to welcome over one million international airline seats in the 2023/24 peak summer season. This remarkable milestone marks a historic high for the Cape Town Air Access project, a testament to years of dedicated efforts to expand connectivity and tourism opportunities.
Doubling International Seat Capacity
The Cape Town Air Access project has achieved a spectacular doubling of international airline seat capacity into Cape Town International Airport in just eight years. This progress is especially remarkable considering that three of those years were significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
A Surge in Airlines and Routes
Contributing to this astounding growth is the addition of seven new airlines and seven fresh routes to the Cape Town International Airport schedule over the past year alone. This surge in connectivity reflects Cape Town’s appeal as a global destination and a hub for business and tourism.
Competition and Connectivity
Wrenelle Stander, CEO of Wesgro, highlights the intense global competition to attract airlines. However, the relentless efforts to enhance connectivity have resulted in Cape Town now hosting 217 international flights per week, operated by 27 airlines serving 31 destinations.
With the one million inbound seats on the horizon, Stander confidently declares, “We are no longer talking recovery; we are talking growth.”
The São Paulo Connection
Among the notable additions is the twice-weekly South African Airways Cape Town-São Paulo route, commencing on October 31. This connection is a testament to the project’s origin as a response to crises when both SAA and Virgin Atlantic ceased flights to Cape Town in 2015.
A Resounding Success
Rashid Toefy, Deputy Director General of the Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism, hails the Cape Town Air Access project as one of the province’s most successful endeavors. It has realized its early goal of increasing connectivity with the Americas, adding São Paulo as the fourth destination alongside Atlanta, Washington DC, and New York.
Expanding African Connectivity
The project’s focus on growing connectivity across the African continent has been equally fruitful. From just five connections between Cape Town and the rest of Africa, the Air Access team has added seven new airlines and ten new continental destinations, including Addis Ababa, Harare, Kigali, Lusaka, and Nairobi.
Wesgro’s data reveals that African seat capacity recorded a compound aggregate growth rate of 10% per year between 2015 and 2023, reaching an impressive 555,000 inbound seats. Mozambique’s LAM Airlines has also joined the network with its new three-times-weekly route between Maputo and Cape Town, beginning on October 15.
Boosting Tourism and Business
Western Cape Minister for Finance and Economic Opportunities, Mireille Wenger, emphasizes the importance of increasing air connectivity with the rest of the African continent. These flights not only boost tourism but also provide opportunities to export Western Cape products via air cargo, facilitating easier access for business travel and potentially boosting investment in the province.
Looking to the Future
While European and Middle-Eastern markets are well-served, Cape Town Air Access Aviation Liaison Paul van den Brink reveals ambitious plans for the future. “West Africa, North Africa, Asia, and Australia are on our wish list for the next few years.” The team will pursue these markets as they head to Turkey next month for Routes World 2023.
The remarkable journey of Cape Town Air Access is a testament to the power of determination and strategic planning. From a crisis-driven initiative to a globally recognized success story, Cape Town’s aviation sector is poised for unprecedented growth. As the one million-seat mark beckons, Cape Town’s status as a top international destination and a crucial hub for Africa continues to soar.