SA airports to receive major facility infrastructure upgrades

OR Tambo International Airport. Picture: OR Tambo International Airport Facebook

OR Tambo International Airport. Picture: OR Tambo International Airport Facebook

Published Mar 5, 2024


South Africa’s aviation sector is set to receive a massive infrastructure boost to increase some of the country’s major airport facilities and continue its upward trajectory and position as Africa’s best globally.

With an earmarked R21.7 billion infrastructure development budget, state-owned entity Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) will, according to Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga, over the next two years embark on crucial capacity expansion projects at a number of the country’s airports.

This includes capacity expansion projects at the Chief Dawid Stuurman International Airport in Gqeberha and George Airport, focusing on the expansion of their terminal facilities.

OR Tambo International Airport. Picture: AP Photo/Mujahid Safodien

In Johannesburg, OR Tambo International Airport will receive a new cargo terminal, known as Mid-field Cargo, including the development of a mid-field passenger terminal on a prioritised basis given the demand experienced.

The minister added that other significant projects at OR Tambo International Airport included the extension of the bussing gates, through the addition of six new bussing gates to the existing Terminal A bussing terminal.

The projects also include the expansion of the airport’s retail, seating, and holding lounge areas, as well as the construction of a new mezzanine level to enhance circulation and optimise seating and holding space.

In a bid to address the growing capacity needs of the domestic arrivals terminal at Cape Town International Airport, Acsa will be enlarging the meet and greet area, expansion of the baggage claim area, add an additional baggage carousel, expand the domestic departures lounge, retail spaces, and ablution facilities, while also adding three new contact gates and fixed boarding bridges.

Despite being a relatively new airport, Chikunga said King Shaka International Airport will see the development of a hotel, with terminal expansion to be sought during the final year of the permission period.

King Phalo Airport will see the expansion of the departure lounge, relocation of the security checkpoint, upgrading of ablution facilities, improvement of the retail options in the departure lounge, including the addition of offices and lounge space on the first floor.

While expanding on the developments within the sector, the minister heralded the performance of aviation state-owned entities following participation in four key international safety and security audits and assessments by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the US safety and security regulators namely, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and lastly the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

“I am elated that South Africa performed very well in all these audits and assessments. ICAO rated South Africa’s safety oversight system at 91.11%, thereby placing South Africa at number one in Africa and number 18 in the world alongside Norway.”

She further expressed gratitude that the sector had continued the 0% fatal accident rate held in the commercial airlines sector for nearly four decades.

“Our target is to maintain this record for decades to come. That is why one of the current administration’s strategic targets is to reduce accidents in the general aviation sector by 50%.”

Despite the positive outlook, the minister announced that at the end of the 2022/23 financial year, the number of accidents recorded in the sector had decreased from 147 to 113 accidents, translating to a 23% decrease from the 2021/22 period.

The number of fatal accidents also decreased from 12 to nine fatal accidents, translating into a 25% decrease with the number of fatalities decreasing by 29.4%.

Chikunga added that for the 2023/24 financial year, as many as 97 accidents were recorded, with aviation stakeholders projecting this to be marginally lower than the previous period.

This even with the number of fatal accidents having increased to 13, four more than the 2022/23 financial year.