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Airport’s economic impact highlighted

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“This drop was partially due to the grounding of the SA Express flights as well as the fact that more people were renting vehicles rather than flying.”

Picture: Danie Van der Lith

WHILE aircraft movement at the Kimberley Airport dropped by 7% in the last financial year, the airport remains economically viable and contributed R38 million to South Africa’s economy in the 2017 financial year.

The Airports Company South Africa’s (ACSA) Kimberley Airport held a media networking breakfast at Kimberley Airport yesterday during which ACSA’s economic impact in the region was highlighted, as well as the performance of the local airport.

According to an economic impact study, undertaken by ACSA, the Kimberley Airport’s total GDP (Gross Domestic Product) contributed was R38 million – approximately 0.1% of the Northern Cape’s GDP.

Lebusa Mabolloane, who presented the findings of the study at yesterday’s briefing, explained that this contribution was purely from ACSA’s operational activities at the Kimberley Airport and excluded the contributions form non-ACSA entities such as airport retailers and the freight business.

According to the study it is estimated that the direct contribution of ACSA Kimberley Airport was R16 million, of which a further
R9 million was contributed through indirect effects from ACSA’s supply chain. “Induced effects, which arise from spending by ACSA Airport Kimberley Airport employees and supply chain employees, contributed R13 million.” This totals the R38 million contribution to the GDP.

By comparison, the Upington Airport contributes R30 million, Bram Fischer R79 million, the George Airport R107 million, the East London Airport R111 million, the Port Elizabeth Airport
R236 million, King Sahaka
R910 million, Cape Town International R2 014 million and OR Tambo 5 568 million.

In 2017, the Kimberley local airport also supported 127 jobs, including 41 direct ACSA employees at the Kimberley Airport (excluding contractors), around 33 jobs as a result of supply chain spending and 53 supported through spending of ACSA Kimberley Airport employees and supply chain employees. This figure does not include enabled jobs such as those of restaurants and other retail outlets doing business within the airport.

During the last financial year, the airport also supported
R23 million in employment income. A total of R12 million was direct payments made to full-time employees of the business, while Kimberley Airport’s purchases from domestic suppliers supported an additional R5 million in employee income. Spending by Kimberley Airport employees as well as the employees of its domestic suppliers supported a further R6 million in employee income.

Senzeni Ndebele, the ACSA corporate affairs senior manager for regional airports, pointed out that despite the drop in aircraft movements from 9 595 in 2016/17 to 8 894 in 2017/18, the Kimberley Airport was not running at a loss and was still economically viable.

“This drop was partially due to the grounding of the SA Express flights as well as the fact that more people were renting vehicles rather than flying.”

She added, however, that this figure had already picked up in this financial year. “Passenger numbers have increased, particularly with the introduction of CemAir flights, which offers lower costs and better time slots.”

Ndbele added that currently there appeared to be enough flights servicing the city on the routes to Johannesburg and Kimberley. “There is a demand for cheaper flights to Cape Town. However, there doesn’t appear to be sufficient demand for flights to other centres, even Upington.”

With more than 170 000 passengers a year, the Kimberley Airport has an 82.2% on-time performance record.

“The Kimberley Airport plays a pivotal role in the Northern Cape economy. A large number of mining magnets, tourists and international and local game hunters pass through the airport, the acting manager of the airport, Gerda Eden, pointed out.

She added that one of the strategic objectives of ACSA was to work closely with the city and to integrate the company’s plans with those of the city, whether these were business, leisure or tourism.

“This requires a joint effort between the airports company and all the role-players in the city, including the government and private sector, to come up with initiatives to stimulate the demand for new flights and operations.

“We have started discussions with stakeholders but these initiatives will take time and hopefully by the end of the next financial year we will be in a position to put structures in place.”

Capex and development plans that are currently under way include the upgrading of the fire station and an aircraft simulator project.

A “wayfinder” project will also be launched in which proper signage from town to the airport will be provided.

Another area that will be looked at is the drop-off zone at the airport. A highly contentious issue with many motorists, who have complained about the parking areas in front of the terminus being blocked off, it was explained that in terms of current legislations, motorists are not allowed to park 3m in front of the building for safety reasons.

“We do, however, allow drop-offs, which shouldn’t take more than five or 10 minutes, although special concessions will be made for the elderly and disabled,” Ndbele explained.

She conceded, however, that the drop-off zones were not sufficient, especially during peak times. “We are looking at putting up a boom system for better traffic control and flow and will also look at other options to address the issue.”