Cape Town International Airport surge
Cape Town International Airport. Photo: iStockPhoto

The Cape Town International Airport domestic terminal has continued its post-third wave recovery for the first two weeks of September, with the domestic passenger numbers reaching 49% of 2019 levels. The periods compared are 1-12 September 2021, and 1-12 September 2019.

While the figures are still much lower than 2019’s, with international passenger terminal recovery sitting at 24% of 2019 levels for the first two weeks of September, it’s actually good news – the highest monthly recovery percentage since the restart of international travel in October 2020. The airport’s Acting General Manager Mark Maclean says:

“We are pleased to see the renewed growth in domestic and international travel as travel restrictions are eased and airlines return to the airport and offer passengers more travel options. We are ready to welcome passengers back to our airport and continue to focus on health and safety. Airport users will also experience new and improved facilities and processes when they visit the airport.”

The 2021 year-to-date passenger terminal recovery is 44% for domestic passengers and only 14% for international passengers, compared to 2019, but these figures, especially on the international side, are expected to gain more momentum as the South African summer season approaches. (And hopefully the UK removes SA from its red list.)

International carriers are gradually adding capacity into the Cape Town market, Wesgro said in a statement today.


Lufthansa will be increasing the Frankfurt-Cape Town service to three flights per week from 24 September, and Emirates are planning to increase the Dubai-Cape Town service to a daily flight from 31 October onwards.

The City of Cape Town’s Alderman James Vos says together with Cape Town Tourism, the City is rolling out several marketing campaigns aimed at local and international travellers. These include:

  • the Pocket-Friendly campaign to show that Cape Town is an affordable destination,
  • the ‘Explore Captivating Cape Town’ local marketing campaign,
  • the ‘Find Your Freedom’ international campaign, and
  • branding in airports and billboards in key source markets.

He says “this is coupled with our messaging around Cape Town being a safe destination due to the uptake of the vaccine together with continued and appropriate adherence to Covid safety protocols.”

Western Cape Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, David Maynier, adds:

“These results are promising for our local industry, which is key to economic recovery and job creation in the Western Cape. With the decrease in Covid-19 infections and the exit from our third wave peak, together with the continued successful Covid-19 vaccination rollout in the province, we hope to see these numbers increase as the festive season draws closer.”

Wesgro’s Acting CEO, Yaw Peprah, says that four out of the province’s top six tourism source markets have, in the past month, permitted the resumption of travel for fully-vaccinated tourists. “With continued lobbying efforts alongside our partners for the removal of South Africa off the ‘red list’ we hope to see the UK follow suit soon,” he says. (If you’d like to help lobby in the UK, please see this article.)

“Furthermore, with the festive season fast approaching and traveller confidence increasing with the ramped up national vaccination efforts, we look forward to welcoming back friends from our neighbouring provinces to enjoy a world within one Province on offer in Cape Town and the Western Cape,” says Peprah.