Major upgrades for South Africa’s main airports – biggest since the 2010 FIFA World Cup

 ·5 Mar 2024

The Airports Company of South Africa Limited (ACSA) has earmarked R21.7 billion to develop airport infrastructure in the country.

This investment primarily targets refurbishments, efficiency improvements, and statutory compliance measures, with the aim of enhancing asset availability, airport safety, and passenger experiences across airports.

Addressing a media briefing on the state of the aviation sector, Minister of Transport Sindisiwe Chikunga said this was the largest capital investment programme by ACSA since preparing for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

“This will see our already world-class airports increasing their facilities to continue leading as Africa’s best airports and increasing our position globally.

Gqeberha and George Chief Dawid Stuurman International and George Airports

The Minister noted that, over the next two years, ACSA plans to embark on crucial capacity expansion projects at Chief Dawid Stuurman International Airport (Gqeberha) and George Airport, focusing on expanding their terminal facilities.

“The terminal expansion project at George Airport is set to commence at the earliest opportunity due to the airport passenger throughput having passed its design capacity pre-COVID-19.

“Chief Dawid Stuurman Airport will follow this within the next year or two,” she said.

Johannesburg – O.R Tambo International Airport

ACSA is set to embark on developing a new cargo terminal, known as Mid-field Cargo, at O.R Tambo International Airport on a prioritised basis given the demand and later the development of a Mid-field Passenger Terminal.

“Other significant projects at O.R Tambo International Airport will include an extension of the bussing gates, which will entail adding six new bussing gates to the existing Terminal A bussing terminal, along with augmenting retail, seating, and holding lounge areas,” the Minister said.

Additionally, as part of phase 2 of this project, a new mezzanine level will be constructed to enhance circulation and optimise seating and holding space.

Cape Town – Cape Town International Airport

“At Cape Town International Airport, the priority will be the domestic arrivals terminal reconfiguration to meet growing capacity needs.

“This encompasses enlarging the meet and greet area, expansion of the baggage claim area, an additional baggage carousel, expansion of the domestic departures lounge, retail spaces, and ablution facilities, as well as the addition of three new contact gates and fixed boarding bridges,” said Chikunga.

“Secondly, the initiation and development of the realigned runway development project is anticipated within the permission period,” she added.

Durban and East London – King Shaka International Airport and King Phalo Airport

King Shaka International Airport will see the development of a hotel, given that it is a relatively new airport, with terminal expansion during the final year of the permission period.

At King Phalo Airport, the focus during the permission period will be on the expansion of the departure lounge, relocation of the security checkpoint, upgrading of ablution facilities, improving retail options in the departure lounge, and adding offices and lounge space on the first floor.

“ACSA continues to diligently review the master plans of its airports, driven by twofold objectives: to meet the current infrastructure needs while ensuring preparedness to fulfil future demands.

“This ongoing process is crucial in strengthening the foundation for a resilient air transport system for South Africa, a cornerstone for advancing our country’s economic development and growth,” the Minister said.

In the year 2022/23, the Air Traffic and Navigation Services SOC Limited (ATNS) invested R128 million in support of its goal of having reliable and stable air traffic management infrastructure, which ultimately boosts the country’s aviation economy and contributes up to 3% to the national gross domestic product (GDP).

“In ATNS’ pursuit of more essential infrastructure upgrades to ensure that the entity is future-fit to continue delivering on its national mandate, up to R155 million is required in the next financial year for investment into its Aeronautical Fixed Telecommunication Network (AFTN),” the Minister said.

Air Cargo innovations

As part of innovations within the sector to enhance efficiency and competitiveness, eAirwaybill has been introduced in the air cargo industry.

Innovations like real-time tracking systems, data analytics, automation, and artificial intelligence can streamline operations, improve visibility, and optimise resource allocation.

“Embracing this digitalisation can only lead to greater transparency, cost savings and a better customer experience.

“While we also embrace innovation, we are equally mindful of cyber threats. Cybersecurity is essential for maintaining the aviation system’s integrity, safety, and resilience.

“We are collaborating more to mitigate risks and enhance cybersecurity across the sector effectively,” Chikunga noted.

“The truth is that the future of freight is digital, and that is our reality.

“Therefore, a robust air cargo system is essential for global trade, speed, efficiency, connectivity, supply chain resilience, economic growth, and the timely delivery of essential goods and services,” the Minister added.

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