Commercial aviation activity in SA slows


Commercial aviation activity in South Africa slowed slightly in the first quarter of 2018, according to the latest information from the CAASA Aviation Activity Index (CAAI).

The index, compiled by the Commercial Aviation Association of Southern Africa (CAASA), found that the CAAI index value declined marginally in the 1st quarter of 2018 to a level of 106.4, which nevertheless still represents a 6.4% increase over the base period for the Index (the 1st quarter of 2014).

The index value has continued a declining trend that commenced in the second quarter of 2016. On the positive side, the first quarter index value is almost 12% higher than the same quarter a year ago, when it slipped to below the base period level of 100 for the first time, CAASA said on 20 July.

A highlight of the latest CAAI is the solid performance of air traffic movements (ATMs) at the non-ACSA airports, with six of the seven airports recording positive growth, compared to the same quarter in 2017.

Only seven of the 25 indicators improved between the 4th quarter of 2017 and the 1st quarter of 2018, but it is encouraging that more than half of the indicators showed improvements over the 1st quarter of 2017, CAASA said.

Commercial aviation activity in South Africa, as depicted by the CAAI, has broadly tracked the lethargic performance of the total economy between 2014 and 2017, with negative GDP growth in Q1 2018 (quarter-on-quarter).

The main reasons for the current declining trend of the CAAI may be found in higher fuel prices and the extraordinary strengthening of the rand exchange rate following Cyril Ramaphosa’s election as South Africa’s new president, which has made the imports of aircraft and spares much more expensive. Furthermore, ATMs at five of the six ACSA airports covered by the index declined in Q1. There is also no doubt that capital formation in the aviation sector is being hamstrung by high interest rates and continuing policy uncertainty, especially with regard to the possible nationalisation of property, CAASA said.

The CAASA Aviation Activity Index (CAAI) is based on 25 different indicators, including the value of imports of helicopters; the value of imports of aeroplanes (of a mass less than 15 tons); the physical quantity of imported aircraft; the value of imports of aircraft spares; the value of exports of aircraft; air traffic movements at six ACSA airports; and air traffic movements at seven non-ACSA airports.