Johannesburg -The opening of the R535 million international terminal building at OR Tambo International airport was a major transport infrastructural milestone ahead of the 2010 World Cup, transport minister Jeff Radebe said yesterday.

The new pier, built by Airports Company of SA (Acsa), is expected to help ease congestion at the international terminal and enable easier connection between flights and the main terminal.

“The development of this terminal represents yet another milestone in the planned infrastructural development as we prepare for the 2010 World Cup,” Radebe said at the opening event. “It is also one of the many major developments scheduled for completion within the next two and a half years here at OR Tambo International airport.”

The extension, completed in August, consists of boarding gates, 18 air bridges and four large aircraft stands.

Monhla Hlahla, Acsa’s managing director, said the new development had put OR Tambo on a par with other major international airports: “This facility makes OR Tambo one of the leading airports in the world and will help us deliver improved services to our clients.”

The completion of the two final phases of the project is scheduled for next year.

The final phase will include a extension of the retail mall and mezzanine lounges.

The new pier is the second of five multimillion-rand infrastructural developments scheduled for completion in the next two years.

The terminal has handled more than 250 000 passengers since August.

Radebe used the opening of the terminal to launch Public Transport Month, which kicks off today. “With the help of all motorists we are planning to make this year’s Public Transport Month the most successful of the last two years,” he said.

“People are encouraged to use public transport.”