OR Tambo International Airport will be more than ready to meet the demands of an influx of 23-million passengers expected to arrive in SA in 2010.

The airport’s general manager, Chris Hlekane, said yesterday the management’s focus on improving efficiencies was aimed at getting passengers on their flights within 30-45 minutes from the time they arrived at the airport.

Hlekane said traffic growth in recent years had exceeded forecasts, putting the airport under pressure. Last year OR Tambo welcomed 19,3-million passengers compared with the forecast 17-million passengers.

Hlekane said that in order to bridge this gap, the management would focus more on maximising operational efficiencies to lessen dependence on infrastructural development.

“Building cannot be the only solution to creating capacity for growing passenger numbers. It makes sense to balance infrastructure development with maximising operation efficiencies — to sweat our assets,” said Hlekane.

Common Use Self-Service units had been implemented in partnership with selected airlines to alleviate pressure on check-in counters. Management had also put in place a queue management system to prevent unacceptably long queues.

A further 2300 bays had eased pressure on parking. A new parking management system, using green lights to point out unoccupied bays, had also made it easier to find parking.

Steps to address lost baggage had begun to pay off, with reports from various airlines of lost or stolen bags falling dramatically in the past few months. The airport would also replace its baggage sorting system, which would speed the processing of luggage and cut down lost bags.

Acsa hopes to be in a position to publish accurate data later this year.

Hlekane said management was striving to have a construction-free airport by 2010 and it was on target to achieve this.

New infrastructure has been phased into use with the new international pier being handed over in September last year.

The Gautrain platform was also ready to be handed over to the Bombela consortium.

The central terminal, which will connect the international and domestic terminals, will be handed over in phases from September this year, when the A1 terminal will be relocated to the new building.

PUBLICATION: Business Day
AUTHOR: Aviation and Tourism Editor
DATED: 13th June 2008