Airports Company South Africa’s (ACSA) motto is ‘RUN AIRPORTS/DEVELOP AIRPORTS/ GROW OUR FOOTPRINT’.
‘Running and developing’ airports cannot be easy in an environment where the country’s national flag carrier airline, South African Airways, is a perennial loss maker, frequently racked by internal disagreements on the way forward. In the last three years for which accounts were accessible (2014/15; 2015/16; and 2016/17) SAA made a net loss of SAR5.6 billion; SAR1.5 bn; and SAR5.6 bn again, on unvarying annual turnover around the SAR 30 bn mark.
SAA accounts for around a quarter of all seat capacity in the country. Another major carrier is British Airways, with 14% of capacity – most of it international but some domestic – and its local franchise Comair (10%). There are low cost airlines, mainly plying their trade on milk routes between the three main city airports of Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban.
Tourism has been increasing since the most recent growth lull in 2015 (-6.8%). It increased by 12.8% in 2016 then 2.4% in 2017 and 1.2% in 2018. It is this stop-start nature of tourist growth that is another reason why infrastructure planning is not an easy exercise for ACSA.