Flights from Joburg to Cape Town halved in 2020 – but it’s still Africa’s busiest domestic route

(Photo by: Edwin Remsberg/VW PICS/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

  • The number of passengers travelling between Johannesburg’s OR Tambo and Cape Town International airports more than halved in 2020.
  • But this domestic route was still ranked as the busiest on the continent.
  • Other routes between Cape Town, Lanseria and Durban lost ground in the rankings as flights in Nigeria and Kenya remained largely unaffected by local lockdown laws.
  • Flights between Zimbabwe and South Africa were the fullest intra-African trips prior to the pandemic but were overtaken by passengers travelling from Mitiga International Airport in Libya to Tunis in Tunisia in 2020.
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The number of passengers flying between Johannesburg and Cape Town more than halved in 2020 but it remains Africa’s busiest domestic route, with OR Tambo International still the most connected airport on the continent.  

African airlines lost close to R140 billion in passenger revenue in 2020, according to a recent report published by African Airlines Association (AFRAA). Coronavirus-related travel restrictions reduced passenger volumes by almost 64% compared to traffic in 2019, with the harshest losses recorded in the third quarter.

South Africa was plunged into hard lockdown at the end of March 2020, with domestic travel severely restricted until June and international borders only partially reopening in October. Airports servicing international arrivals were limited to Johannesburg’s OR Tambo, Cape Town International, Durban’s King Shaka, and Lanseria.

The number of domestic passengers travelling in 2020 was just 27% of the total local travellers recorded in the year prior, according to data provided by the Airports Company South Africa. Regional traffic to and from other African countries dropped by almost 93%.

But despite passenger volumes dropping from around 4 million in 2019 to less than 2 million in 2020, the route from…

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