Is Cape Town paying the price for SAAs’ decision to halt direct flights to and from London

IS Cape Town already paying the price for South African Airways’ decision to halt direct flights to and from London and the demise of the domestic 1 time airline?

The latest statistics from the Airports company show a sharp drop in the number of domestic and international flights arriving in Cape Town as well as a drop in the number of passengers landing in the city.

Despite this the City had a good festive season but the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry believes it would have been even better if there had been a normal airline service.

Mr Fred Jacobs, President of the Chamber, said he had hoped that other airlines would arrange more flights to fill the gaps left by SAA and 1 time to keep up the flow of visitors to South Africa’s number one tourist city. “This does not seem to have happened but the airlines may have filled more seats and some larger aircraft may have been used.”

The number of passengers arriving on international flights in December was 78 204. This was 10.2 percent lower than the figure for December 2011. Passenger numbers were also down by more than 14 percent in October and November.

He said the December tally of 318 665 passengers arriving on domestic flights was down by 5.6 percent. This figure would include overseas passengers arriving in Johannesburg and then using a local carrier for the leg to Cape Town.

The figure for the number of international aircraft landing in Cape Town in December was 277, down by 13.4 percent from the 320 flights which landed here in December 2011. Landings were down by 21 percent in November and by 34 percent in October.

The number of domestic aircraft arriving in Cape Town was down by 16.25 percent in December, by 15 percent in November and 7.3 percent in October.

Mr Jacobs said Cape Town had a successful festive season with both the tourist industry and retailers reporting good business, but there is no doubt that we have been let down by the SAA and its decision to halt direct London flights. “It could have been so much better and we urge SAA to reconsider its international service to Cape Town, the tourism capital of the country.”

In spite of the reduced airline service Table Mountain cableway sold more tickets in the month than in any month since 1929 and the V & A Waterfront reported a 10 percent increase in the number of visitors taking the total to more than three million for the month. There was an 8.24 percent increase in sales.

Hotels in central Cape Town, Sea Point and the Waterfront report higher occupancy rates. Stellenbosch, too, had a good season producing an overflow of guests for both Paarl and Somerset West.

Business was also good with cash withdrawals from ATM machines up by 6 percent on last year and the average sum withdrawn increased to R485. Pick’n Pay, an essentially cash company, reports an increase in business over the festive season but says there are indications that the support was coming from local residents who decided not to go away for the holidays.

Fashion retailers which offer credit such as Truworths and Foschini, report mixed results with Truworths pointing out that the credit environment was becoming more difficult with “consumer delinquency levels increasing nationally”. Mr Price said disappointing sales growth was a result of curtailing credit in view of a growing unsecured credit problem.



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