State-owned airport operator Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) is continuing with its roll-out of infrastructure to meet the needs for 2010 and beyond.

In the run-up to the 2010 soccer World Cup, Acsa is investing in infrastructure to ensure the com- pany’s airports are able to cope with increasing passenger numbers and adhere to international service and security standards.

Among the projects completed to date is the R43-million upgraded and expanded George Airport in the Southern Cape, officially opened by the Minister of Transport, Jeff Radebe, last week.

In total, 500 000 bricks, 900 m3 of cement and 350 000 work hours were used in the upgrade.

Radebe said the upgrade has provided an opportunity to spread government’s broad-based black economic-empowerment participation, with 34% of the contract value spent with black economically empowered companies.

“This demonstrates our commitment and effort to bring more and more black people into mainstream economic participation through affirmative procurement. We will strive to improve and exceed these levels of black empowerment as we continue infrastructural development for 2010 and beyond,” said Radebe.

George has a new terminal as the most recent addition to its portfolio of smart, modern and user-friendly facilities.

George municipal manager Cecil Africa pointed out that George Airport will continue to play a significant role in moving people and goods, as well as in attracting tourists.

“It is our wish that one day Acsa will attain full international status for the airport,” said Africa.

Acsa MD Monhla Hlahla told Engineering News that when the demand is visible, the providers and regulators of licences will consider the decision to upgrade the status of George Airport.

“It will be informed by real data and demand to convince the regulators of licences. By the time we finalised the approval for the upgrade, George was growing at 18%, the fastest growing being Bloem- fontein, with 35%, followed by East London and George,” said Hlahla.

George Airport may be relatively small, but is growing at a fast pace and represents an important component in the Acsa network of airports, she added.

“While we are on track to meet our commitments for the 2010 soccer World Cup, we are striving to ensure convenience and comfort for those using our facilities. The new developments at George Airport are in the spirit and in accordance with our long-term planning agenda,” noted Hlahla.

Air passenger traffic at the airport is expected to reach 670 000 by the end of this year, and is projected to top one-million by 2012.

The design and planning of the upgrade to George Airport began in September 2004, and construction took place in three phases.

The first phase involved an internal upgrade, which created space for extra check-in counters and airline operators. Phase two comprised civil earthworks, and phase three involved the actual building upgrade and additions to the existing terminal. A free-standing car-rental building was also constructed.