DATA: What are the Fastest Growing Airports in Southern Africa?

Ahead of this year's inaugural Routes Middle East and Africa forum, Routesonline is providing a snapshot on the leading airlines and airports and most used aircraft types across the region. Here we look closely at the airports serving Southern Africa and highlight the region's top performers.

Ahead of this year's inaugural Routes Middle East and Africa forum, Routesonline is providing a snapshot on the leading airlines and airports and most used aircraft types across the region.  Here we look closely at the airports serving Southern Africa and highlight the region's top performers.

 The data is all supplied by OAG Aviation using its OAG Schedules Analyser tool.

Scheduled Air Capacity From Southern Africa (2005 - 2014)

Our analysis of published schedules for the past ten years shows that air capacity within and from Southern Africa has risen from 24,971,070 available seats in 2005 to 34,259,688 available seats in 2014.  This represents a growth of 37.2 per cent across the period, an average annual increase of 4.1 per cent.  In the past year capacity increased 3.9 per cent.

Top Ten Airports in the Southern African Market (2014)

The expansive aviation network in South Africa - thanks to strong internal domestic competition - means that the country was home to the four largest operators in southern Africa by departure seats within and from the region in 2014. National carrier South African Airways (SAA) remains the dominant carrier with a 35.8 per cent share of departure seats within and from southern Africa in 2014, albeit this is down from 37.5 per cent in 2010.

The airline has faced increasing pressure in its home market with Comair, the region’s second largest operator increasing its share from 17.9 per cent in 2010 to 21.6 per cent in 2014. This is split between its two operational units with its low-cost Kulula.com business holding an 11.3 per cent share of departure seats last year and its network franchise operation under the British Airways a 10.3 per cent share.

Another reason for SAA’s reduction in share is that its low-cost business, Mango, has boosted its own market share within and from southern Africa from 5.4 per cent to 8.7 per cent in 2014, ranking it as the fourth largest operator in the region.

The largest airline in southern Africa from outside South Africa is TAAG Angola Airlines, which held a 5.1 per cent share of capacity within and from the region in 2014. This was despite a second successive year of capacity declines since a high in 2012.   The Gulf hub carrier Emirates Airline is the largest operator from outside southern Africa to serve the region with a 3.3 per cent capacity share, despite departure seats from southern Africa falling 0.1 per cent between 2013 and 2014.

Fastest Growing Airports in the Southern African Market (2010-2014)

Capacity data in the region over the past five year period highlight how the development of enhanced aviation connectivity within and from Malawi mean that two of the country’s airports have reported the largest capacity growth in southern Africa over the past five years.

After a significant capacity rise between 2013 and 2014, Chileka International Airport, located in the country’s second city of Blantyre, is the region’s fastest growing airport with departure seats almost quadrupling over the past five years from 99,826 in 2010 to 382,006 in 2014 and has risen from being the 25th largest airport in the region to 14th largest by capacity during the period.

Malawi’s largest airport, Lilongwe International Airport, was the third fastest growing facility in southern Africa over the past five years with departure capacity growing by two thirds (up 66 per cent). Sandwiched between the two Malawian airports as the second fastest growing facility in southern Africa was Lanseria International Airport, which serves as an alternative gateway to Johannesburg, South Africa (up 72.7 per cent).

Data comparison between 2013 and 2014 shows a strong capacity growth trend among the top ten airports in the region by capacity, particularly in the South African market that dominates air travel in the Southern African region. Seven of the ten largest airports in the area reported a growth in departure seats within and from Southern Africa in 2014 with all three airports with declining capacity coming from outside the country.

Growth from Comair and South African Airways (SAA) low-cost subsidiary, Mango has helped Port Elizabeth Airport report the highest annual capacity growth between 2013 and 2014 with a 7.2 per cent rise in departure seats.

Elsewhere, Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International reported a 5.3 per cent increase in capacity between 2013 and 2014, King Shaka International Airport in Durban a 3.6 per cent rise and Cape Town International Airport a 3.2 per cent increase. The only airports within the top ten from outside South Africa to report growth between 2013 and 2014 were Maputo International Airport in Mozambique (up 1.4 per cent) and Luanda’s Quatro de Fevereiro International Airport in Angola (up 0.3 per cent).

Declines in capacity in 2014 came at Harare Airport in Zimbabwe (down 18.0 per cent); Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in Lusaka, Zambia (down 10.2 per cent) and Hosea Kutako International Airport in Windhoek, Namibia (down 2.0 per cent).

Looking at the wider top twenty airports in the region it is Chileka International Airport, located nine miles from Blantyre, the second largest city in the Republic of Malawi and the commercial capital of Malawi's southern region, which recorded the largest year-on-year capacity growth between 2013 and 2014 with a massive rise of 300.6 per cent, thanks to the operations of new local carrier Malawian Airlines and growth from both Ethiopian Airlines and Kenya Airways.

Strong growth was also recorded at Lilongwe International Airport in Malawi (up 87.5 per cent) for the same reasons as at Blantyre, while large double-digit growth was also recorded at George Airport in South Africa (24.4 per cent), Nampula Airport in Mozambique (17.4 per cent) and Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport in South Africa (10.7 per cent).

Scheduled Southern African Capacity by Aircraft Type

The chart below shows which aircraft types were most prevalent in the Southern African market during 2014. The schedule data shows that the Boeing 737 holds the strongest position in the region but also shows the important role an older Classic variant of the aircraft plays.

The Boeing 737-800 (738) is the most widely used aircraft type in this market with a massive 29.9 per cent share of available seats with overall network capacity increasing by 12.0 per cent between 2013 and 2014 to just over ten million departure seats, the first year this milestone has been achieved.

The second most utilised aircraft type in this market is the older Boeing 737-400 (734) with a 6.3 per cent share, down 8.0 per cent in 2014, while the third most widely operated type by network capacity is the Airbus A319 (319) with a 6.1 per cent share, down 9.2 per cent, followed by the Bombardier Dash 8 (DH8) with a 4.7 per cent share, up 0.7 per cent.

The biggest rises in annual capacity among the top ten aircraft types in Southern Africa were recorded by the Airbus A320 (320) with a 56.2 per cent rise in available seats in 2014 versus 2013 and the small Embraer ERJ-135 (ER3) regional jet with a 10.5 per cent rise.

Four of the ten aircraft types most prevalent in Southern Africa witnessed a decline in usage in 2014 versus 2013. The largest declines in annual capacity were recorded by the Boeing 777-300ER (77W) with a fall of 13.8 per cent versus 2013 and the Airbus A319 (319) with a decline in seats of 9.2 per cent.

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