The South African commercial aviation sector “is alive and well and outperforming most other sectors of the economy by a considerable margin”, reported the Commercial Aviation Association of Southern Africa (Caasa) in a statement released on November 29. The release marked the publication of the ‘Caasa Aviation Activity Index (CAAI): 3rd Quarter 2016’. There was, however, a “modest decline”, compared with the second quarter.
The CAAI is a composite index and, using a three-month moving average, since the first quarter of 2014, the CAAI has risen by more than 47%, giving an average annual growth rate of 16.8%. In comparison, the average annual growth rate of the country’s gross domestic product (weighted in accordance with the quantity/nominal value ratio used by the Index) was only 4.6%.
“The main drivers behind the sterling performance of the CAAI since 2014 has been the value of imports of aircraft and spares, as well as the value of exports of aircraft,” explained Caasa. “This combined value reached a level of R5.2-billion during the first three quarters of 2016, compared with R3.7-billion during the first three quarters of 2014.”
The association used four categories of activity to illustrate the growth between these two 9-month periods. Imports of helicopters jumped 116%, imports of aeroplanes with a mass less than 15 t rose by 46%, imports of aircraft spares by 36% and exports of aircraft by 38%.
Air traffic movements through Airports Company South Africa- (ACSA-) managed airports have increased modestly since 2014. The group index rose by 4.9%, with OR Tambo International Airport (at Johannesburg) and George Airport seeing the greatest increase. However, air traffic movements growth at airports not managed by ACSA was considerably stronger over the same period. It came to 21.2%, with Rand Airport being the “star performer”. However, activity at these non-ACSA airports has slowed down over the past nine months.
Caasa created the CAAI for two reasons. The first was to acknowledge the crucial role played by commercial aviation in South Africa today, rapidly transporting “decision-makers and cargo in all spheres of society”. The second was to increase the data base on the condition of the country’s domestic aviation industry “by forging a number of key indicators into a composite index, weighted in terms of their perceived contribution to the general trend in commercial aviation”.
To these ends, 25 separate indicators were selected for use by the CAAI. These were grouped into seven categories. These are: value of imports of helicopters; value of imports of aeroplanes with a mass less than 15 t; physical quantity of imported aircraft; value of imports of aircraft spares; value of exports of aircraft with a mass of less that 15 t; air traffic movements at six ACSA airports, including OR Tambo, Cape Town International and King Shaka International (Durban); and air traffic movements at seven important non-ACSA airports.
“In combination, the CAAI provides an objective and balanced gauge of economic activity in the commercial aviation industry, compared to a base period,” elucidated Caasa. “Due to the short-term volatility inherent in purchasing and selling aircraft, where units are small, but the currency values are high, several of the group indices of the CAAI are based on a standard statistical practice of a three-month moving average, including the overall index.”
The CAAI was launched at the Africa Aerospace and Defence 2016 exhibition in September. The first index covered the second quarter of this year.