Durban – Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) will begin as early as next week to call for bids from potential retail suppliers, which will occupy the 6 445m2 space at the new King Shaka International Airport.

Acsa will advertise 60 tenders between November and February for the airport, which is currently under construction. Ten of the bids, which will be published at the end of the month, would be for car rental operators and the successful companies will be appointed next March.

Mahesh Govind, the assistant general manager for retail at Acsa, said yesterday that it was critical to issue the car rental tender early because getting the depots ready was a long process.

Govind said the opportunities would be for large and small and medium enterprises. He said although their market research showed that passengers wanted brands with a proven track record, unknown companies were not precluded as innovation was welcomed.

“Of these 60 opportunities, there are large areas and small areas where the risk, size and financial requirements are not that huge. That does not mean small businesses should just go for small opportunities. If they are able to raise the money, the opportunities are open to everyone,” said Govind.

The main suppliers that Acsa will be looking for are food and beverages, restaurants, apparel, gift shops, book shops, retail banking and a pharmacy, which would make up the 50 shops. These tenders would be advertised next January and February. They would be awarded in August and trade would begin in May 2010.

In the 2007/08 financial year, Acsa generated R1.3 billion from commercial activities, which amounted to 49 percent of the company’s revenue.

Yesterday, Acsa delivered presentations to KwaZulu-Natal entrepreneurs highlighting the commercial opportunities available at the R6.8 billion airport located at La Mercy.

Terence Delomaney, the regional general manager at the Durban International Airport and national airports, said there would be a delay in issuing a tender for metered taxi operators because the industry was fragmented and they were looking for uniformity.

In awarding these tenders, preference would be given to KwaZulu-Natal firms and female-owned entities. A hotel and a petrol station next to the airport would not be constructed immediately because environmental impact assessments have to be conducted and rezoning applications must be filed.

Seventy pecrent of the R6.8 billion will be spent on black economic empowerment companies. Of this amount, R27 million will be allocated to enterprise development, another R27 million to corporate social investment and R6.8 million to skills development.

The airport will have an initial annual capacity of 7.5 million passengers.