North America was identified as one of the largest unserved markets, with the USA ranked as the 3rd largest market for inbound passengers to Cape Town International Airport in 2017. OAG Data cited 119 817 inbound passengers between January to November 2018, this is an increase of 5% compared to that of the same period in 2017. Confirming the need for a direct connection between North America and the Mother City, the facilitation of a direct route remains a top priority for the Cape Town Air Access Project.
Similarly, South America presents many untapped opportunities, with Brazil showing a marked increase of 51% for inbound passengers in 2017, compared to that of 2016. Between January to November 2018, 18 090 inbound passengers were recorded into Cape Town International Airport, showing an increase of 7% compared to that of the same period in 2017.
“The event gives us the rare opportunity to meet with key aviation professionals in the market, as well as providing an additional platform to showcase our route development case for Cape Town and the Western Cape,” said Air Access Project Manager, Paul van den Brink.
While North America is earmarked as a priority market for the upcoming year, the Air Access Project will also be focusing on the facilitation of new routes to North and West Africa.
Currently the largest unserved market in Africa is Lagos in Nigeria, with over 27 000 two-way passengers recorded between January and November 2018, showing an increase of 15% compared to that of 2017.
“With Cape Town International claiming the accolade of best Airport in Africa for three consecutive years, we see an opportunity to position Cape Town as North America’s gateway to the rest of the African continent. Since CTAA’s inception in 2015, 8 new African destinations have been added to Cape Town International’s growing network including: Addis Ababa, Harare, Kigali, Livingstone, Luanda, Maun, Nairobi and Victoria Fall. This resulted in 400 000 two-way seats to the CPT African Network,” said Wesgro CEO Tim Harris.
Harris added, “A direct route with North America presents opportunities for increased tourism, trade and investment with the Western Cape, as well as opportunities for increased cargo which saw over a 50% increase in 2017, thanks to the efforts of the CTAA project initiative.”
Minister of Economic Opportunities, Beverly Schäfer, said: “Air Access has been tremendously successful in opening up Cape Town to the rest of the world and this track record of excellence, coupled with the fact that Cape Town International is the premier airport in Africa, will stand the team in good stead as they head to Routes America. We now have our eye firmly on developing a direct route between Cape Town and the USA, which will help us to further grow tourism and trade relations and create new opportunities for growth and jobs.”
"Connecting Cape Town to the rest of the world is part of our goal of growing tourism and the associated job creation benefits for our communities. North America is one of the biggest markets and creating a direct route will contribute significantly to tourism growth in Cape Town. We have a world-class city and and an award-winning airport in Cape Town International Airport. We want to promote Cape Town and continue to ensure that it remains one of the top global destinations for tourism and investment," said Executive Mayor, Dan Plato.
Mayoral Committee Member for Economic Opportunities and Asset Management, Alderman James Vos, concluded: “The City of Cape Town is proud to be involved with Air Access as the City has provided funding towards this initiative, and with the recent approval of the adjustment budget, I have motivated for additional funding towards this project, given its significance to land more flights that will translate into more economic opportunities for our city meaning more jobs for locals. This project certainly unlocks the full potential of our aviation economy, and importantly connects our city with many more countries resulting in additional trade and investment opportunities.”
Cape Town Air Access is a partnership between the City of Cape Town, Western Cape Government, Wesgro, Cape Town Tourism, South African Tourism, Airports Company South Africa and private sector partners. To date, the CTAA initiative has helped land 8 new international airlines, 13 new direct routes and 18 route expansions, resulting in more than 1.5 million two-way seats being added into Cape Town International boosting the local economy by R6 billion.