Signs of improvement in SA aviation activity


After a major decline over the last two years, the level of aviation activity in South Africa is starting to improve, according to the latest Aviation Activity Index released by the Commercial Aviation Association of Southern Africa (CAASA).

The most recent results, for the fourth quarter of 2017, show that the CAAI index value increased marginally to reach a level of 115.6, which represents a 15.6% increase over the base period of the first quarter of 2014, but down significantly from its peak of 176 in early 2015, and 170 in early 2016.
“The index value has further consolidated its modest recovery from a disappointing first quarter, which saw it slipping below the base period level of 100 for the first time,” CAASA said on 20 March. “A highlight of the latest CAAI is the reversal of the downward trend in the 3-month moving average, which is now virtually on par with the index value.”

Presenting the results, economist Dr Roelof Botha said that only eight of the 25 indicators improved between the 3rd and 4th quarters of 2017, but these included indicators that carry a relatively large weighting in the composition of the index.

Commercial aviation activity in South Africa, as depicted by the CAAI, has broadly tracked the lackluster performance of the total economy between 2014 and 2017 and is closely tied to GDP.

CAASA said the main drivers behind the positive trend of the CAAI since the beginning of the year has been the value of aircraft imports and air traffic movements (ATMs) at the majority of the country’s largest airports.

Botha highlighted some trends in aviation activity, including the value of imported propellers exceeding the value of imported undercarriages, indicating fewer overhauls are being undertaken. He also pointed out that in the last quarter of 2017, the value of imported spares exceeded the value of imported light aircraft, which was unusual. (Almost R850 million worth of spares were imporved compared to R640 million worth of aircraft. This compares to a peak of nearly R1 billion worth of spares in early 2016 and R750 million worth of aircraft during that time.)

Air traffic movements have remained relatively consistent over the last four years, with more than 80 000 in the last quarter of 2017 at OR Tambo International, Durban and Cape Town; 75 000 at seven non-ACSA airports and 30 000 for Port Elizabeth, East London and George in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Botha said that the last quarter of 2017 was not great, but there is newfound optimism in the economy with the rand strengthening, capital formation improving, business confidence improving dramatically and retail sales setting records. Commodity prices are rising and stable GDP growth is predicted for Africa, which are all positive signs for aviation.