South Africa Transportation - 2023


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National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 17 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 243

annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 23,921,748 (2018)

annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 716.25 million (2018) mt-km

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix



407 (2021)

Airports - with paved runways


note: paved runways have a concrete or asphalt surface but not all have facilities for refueling, maintenance, or air traffic control; the length of a runway required for aircraft to safely operate depends on a number of factors including the type of aircraft, the takeoff weight (including passengers, cargo, and fuel), engine types, flap settings, landing speed, elevation of the airport, and average maximum daily air temperature; paved runways can reach a length of 5,000 m (16,000 ft.), but the “typical” length of a commercial airline runway is between 2,500-4,000 m (8,000-13,000 ft.)

Airports - with unpaved runways


note: unpaved runways have a surface composition such as grass or packed earth and are most suited to the operation of light aircraft; unpaved runways are usually short, often less than 1,000 m (3,280 ft.) in length; airports with unpaved runways often lack facilities for refueling, maintenance, or air traffic control


94 km condensate, 1,293 km gas, 992 km oil, 1,460 km refined products (2013)


total: 20,986 km (2014)

standard gauge: 80 km (2014) 1.435-m gauge (80 km electrified)

narrow gauge: 19,756 km (2014) 1.065-m gauge (8,271 km electrified)

other: (2014) 1,150 km (passenger rail, gauge unspecified, 1,115.5 km electrified)


total: 750,000 km (2016)

paved: 158,124 km (2016)

unpaved: 591,876 km (2016)

Merchant marine

total: 107

by type: bulk carrier 3, general cargo 1, oil tanker 7, other 96 (2022)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Richards Bay, Saldanha Bay

container port(s) (TEUs): Durban (2,430,295) (2021)

LNG terminal(s) (import): Mossel Bay

Transportation - note

South Africa operates one PC 5 or 6 class light icebreaker
note - PC indicates a Polar Class vessel: PC 5 - year-round operation in medium first-year ice which may include old ice inclusions (ice thickness up to 70-120 cm); PC 6 - summer/autumn operation in medium first-year ice which may include old ice inclusions (ice thickness up to 30-70 cm)

NOTE: The information regarding South Africa on this page is re-published from the 2023 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of South Africa 2023 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about South Africa 2023 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 06 Dec 23, Copyright © 2023 ITA all rights reserved.