Modest recovery in South African commercial aviation activity consolidated

24th November 2017

By: Keith Campbell

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor


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The Commercial Aviation Association of Southern Africa (Caasa) has reported that its Aviation Activity Index (CAAI) for the third quarter of this year has “consolidated its modest recovery from a disappointing first quarter”. The CAAI is a composite index created to provide an indicator of economic activity in the commercial aviation sector that is balanced and objective.

The first quarter experienced a sharp decline which, for the first time, took the CAAI below the base period level of 100. Because of this, the downward trend of the three-month moving average has not yet swung back upwards. However, it has stayed above the base period level of 100. (The base period is the first quarter of 2014.) Of the 25 indicators used in the creation of the CAAI, 13 went up (improved) during the first half of the year, while 12 went down. “To a large extent, this split explains the marginal movement in the index during the third quarter,” stated Caasa.

The improvement in the CAAI since the first quarter has largely been due to the value of aircraft imports and to the number of air traffic movements at the country’s main airports. (It is because buying and selling aircraft, which involve small volumes but high values, create short-term volatility, which the index uses as a three-month moving average trend.)

Regarding air traffic movements, and compared with the average since 2014, the large airports that performed best have been OR Tambo International (Johannesburg), Cape Town International and King Shaka International (Durban). Among the airports that do not belong to the Airports Company South Africa (ACSA), those that did best were Pietermaritzburg, Rand, Grand Central, Nelspruit and Lanseria.

According to the CAAI, South African commercial aviation activity has increased at an average yearly rate of 4% since the base period. This is in line with the performance of the whole economy over the same period.

The 25 indicators that make up the CAAI are combined into seven groups. These are the value of imports of helicopters; the value of imports of aeroplanes with a mass less than 15 t; the number of aircraft imported; the value of aircraft spares imported; the value of aircraft exports; the number of air traffic movements at six ACSA airports; and the number of air traffic movements at seven non-ACSA airports.

Caasa created the CAAI for three main reasons. The first was to acknowledge the crucial role played by commercial aviation in South Africa, rapidly transporting “decision-makers in all spheres of society”. The second was to deal with the problem that individual data sets concerned with only one or two aspects of commercial aviation are often contradictory (often as a result of the capital-intensive nature of the sector’s asset base). And the third was to address a need that Caasa had ascertained existed amongst its members (and other aviation stakeholders) to assist in the development of the knowledge base regarding conditions in the aviation sector by merging a variety of important indicators into a composite index. This index is weighed in terms of the indicators’ perceived contribution to the general commercial aviation trend.

Caasa currently has some 220 companies as members, and these members operate a total of about 6 200 aircraft, both fixed-wing and helicopters (not all in South Africa). It is the largest commercial/general aviation association in Africa. Its aim, as stated on its website, is “to serve, promote, watch over, advance and mutually protect the interest of the general and commercial aviation industry, and to act as a link between the industry and government, government agencies and other public bodies within the Southern African region.”

Edited by Martin Zhuwakinyu
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor





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