The Economic Benefits of an Aerotropolis in Cape Town

At our recent Thought Leaders breakfast around the Economic Benefits of an Aerotropolis in Cape Town, we heard from Deon Cloete, General Manager of Cape Town International Airport and Paul van den Brink, Wesgro’s Project Manager of Cape Town Air Access project.

We first heard from Deon who shared with us Cape Town International Airport’s vision, saying that ACSA aims to be the most sought-after partner in the world for the provision of airport management solutions by 2025. Deon went on to highlight how critical transport is for economic development and reminded us that in the future, cities will be competing instead of countries, and for this to be successful we require access for people, goods and information. He said that if the transport networks work together synergistically, we will be able to achieve an aerotropolis along with its associated benefits.

Interestingly, Deon said that at first airports push development in the areas surrounding it and once those surrounding areas have reached a certain level, they begin to push back on the airport with increased logistics demand and so begins a cycle, which leads to economic growth and development. If one considers the areas surrounding Cape Town International Airport, this concept has the potential to bring about rapid economic and social transformation to some of Cape Town’s most disadvantaged areas.

An aerotropolis is about leveraging an airport for broader economic benefit and development. The value lies in air connectivity, urbanisation and local accessibility. An aerotropolis can yield seven times more high-value job growth, 3000 direct and indirect jobs supported by each regularly scheduled long-haul service and 2% regional employment growth with every 10% passenger growth.

For more on Deon’s presentation on an aerotropolis as an evolving opportunity, click here.

We then heard from Paul who took us through an example of a successful aerotropolis, namely Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS), this was followed by a Cape Town Air Access (CTAA) update, one of the main pillars for aerotropolis development in Cape Town.

Annually, Schiphol sees 70 million passengers and 1.8 million tons of cargo. In close proximity to Schiphol are 600 international companies, as well as numerous business parks creating 70 000 jobs directly linked to the airport and a further 150 000 indirect jobs – this a clear indicator that a big airport is a major enabler for economic growth.

Referencing a map of the Amsterdam aerotropolis, Paul provided us with a view of how the airport functions as a multimodal hub. It was interesting to see how all the dots connect i.e. land, air and sea connectivity ultimately optimising the supply chain, making the airport region more sustainable and attractive to companies which will in turn grow the economy further.

Although a long process having started in the 80’s, the main pillars of success for AMS includes excellent stakeholder management, an involved business community, network – Schiphol is one of the best connected airports in the world with 326 destinations, a dedicated air cargo strategy and team, a large talent and expertise pool, an integrated and sustainable approach in land development, marketing and infrastructure under one roof and lastly, a clear mandate.

Paul then provided us with an update on Wesgro’s CTAA project. Since inception in July 2015, CTAA has contributed to landing 8 new international airlines, 13 new routes and 18 route expansions at Cape Town International Airport, doubling international seat capacity at the airport with 1.5 million seats, 16% international terminal passenger growth in 2016 and 20% growth in 2017 (the world average for 2017 was 8%), along with 52% growth in international air cargo in 2017.

For more on Paul’s presentation on AMS and CTAA, click here.

The session ended with a lively Q&A session and we would once again like to thank our guest speakers as well as Deloitte for sponsoring this engagement.

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