South Africa‘s KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) province will use the existing Durban International Airport and the new international airport in La Mercy during the World Cup next year to ensure a smooth operation, South African Transport Minis ter Sbu Ndebele said on Tuesday.

Both airports will be operational at the same time during the World Cup. The new airport will start operating on May 2 next year and the Durban International Airport will be decommissioned after the soccer tournament, said Ndebele during his visit to the new airport north of Durban, the South African Press Association reported.

The Durban International Airport would be used as part of a contingency plan to ensure the influx of visitors during the first World Cup in Africa was properly catered for, he said.

Ndebele was accompanied by senior officials in his department, KwaZulu-Natal MEC for transport Willies Mchunu and the African Union commissioner for structure and energy, Elham Ibrahim, who is attending a conference for transport ministers taking place in Durban.

When the plan for the construction of the La Mercy airport was given the green light, Ndebele, who was still KwaZulu-Natal premier, suggested the airport be named after King Shaka.

It, however, emerged on Tuesday that the naming of the airport needed to follow cumbersome processes involving input from the public.

Ndebele said his department and the department of arts and culture were in a race against time to name the airport.

DATED: 14th October 2009