OR Tambo, the flagship airport of Johannesburg, may see less people come through its terminals if the SAA crisis gets any worse.
Johannesburg is used to having “hub status” – whether that’s as one of Africa’s biggest city economies or as a tourist destination – but OR Tambo could soon see the number of people who pass through their terminals dwindle in the near future, due to cuts at South African Airways (SAA).
Why Johannesburg could lose its “hub status”
That’s the message being shared by Airports Company South Africa this week. They believe that SAA’s decision to reduce their seat capacity by 13% is already taking its toll on the popular airport.
According to Chief Operations Officer Fundi Sithebe, OR Tambo’s reliance on SAA is ultimately harmful for business. Around 46% of passengers who come through the hub’s doors fly with Mzansi’s national airline, and a reduction in those numbers could open the door for other sub-Saharan destinations:
“The threat is real that East and West Africa will take over from Johannesburg as a hub. We really need to entice passenger (growth) policies with a dominant airline at Johannesburg.”
Fundi Sithebe, ACSA COO.
ACSA made this prediction under a cloud, however. Auditor-general (AG) Kimi Makwetu has unearthed gross financial mismanagement embattling certain governmental departments, municipalities and state-owned enterprises.
According to Makwetu, irregular expenditure has become a serious strain on the financial reports of parastatals, with ACSA themselves failing to produce proper procurement documents for deals worth up to R550 million.
SAA: Addis Ababa competing with Johannesburg
Although a 3.2% rise in people visiting South Africa is predicted for next year, Johannesburg’s influence looks set to be dramatically reduced. Especially when there’s a new kid on the block.
Ethiopian Airlines are set to land a major coup over the next few months, as Addis Ababa – the country’s main travel hub – will overtake Dubai as the most popular destination for connecting long-haul flights to South Africa. The city is directly connected to 65 other international destinations, which is 22 more than OR Tambo.
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