King Shaka International Airport.
DURBAN -  King Shaka Airport passenger data from the Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA) showed strong growth in June with a 10.8% year-on-year (y/y) increase. 

This data is available a month ahead of the Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) data on tourism and migration for the same month. The May 2018 Stats SA tourism release is scheduled to be released on July 23, while the June data is due in the second half of August. 

There is a difference between the data as the ACSA data is based on where the flight originates, but the nationality of the passengers is not known, whereas the Stats SA classifies foreign tourists by nationality.

For instance, the November 2017 ACSA data shows that there was a 7.1% y/y decline in the number of passenger arrivals carried on international routes to 15,941, while the Stats SA data shows that the number of foreign arrivals fell by 18.4% y/y to 4,423. 

An Emirates Boeing 777 aircraft shown docked at an ‘airbridge’ at Durban’s King Shaka International Airport in this file photo.
Clearly, there are more than 10,000 South African residents who returned on international flights to KwaZulu-Natal (KZN).   In recent months, King Shaka outperformed the other airports, but there tended to be a decline in international arrivals, which was more than offset by strong gains in domestic and regional passenger volumes. In June all sectors performed strongly as it seems as if King Shaka Airport has moved to a new level. 

The standout performance was in regional departures with a 17.6% y/y surge after a 15.7% y/y gain in May. King Shaka Airport only started receiving regional passengers from October 2016, so there is strong scope to push this up even further.  

 The 6.5% y/y increase in domestic passenger arrivals to 245,361 in December 2017 also shows that the domestic economy is reviving, as the y/y increase in December 2016 was only 1.3% and that continued in June 2018 with an 11.4% y/y jump after a 6.3% y/y rise in May as the economic recovery builds momentum.

From a revenue point of view, King Shaka Airport gains more from departing passengers as they have time to shop and eat before departure, while on arrival, passengers head for their destination as soon as possible. Overall there were only 258,244 departures in December 2017 compared with 262,686 arrivals, while in May this ratio was reversed with more departures at 234,996 compared with 232,700 arrivals. In June, when more domestic tourists head for Durban’s beaches, it returned to the December holiday ratio with 243,322 arrivals and 237,276 departures.

- BUSINESS REPORT