State-owned airport operator Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) reports that aeronautical tariffs, in the form of passenger service charges, have dropped over the last year, largely owing to the growth in the contribution of nonaeronautical revenues to total income.

Nonaeronautical revenues act as a subsidy to reduce airline and passenger fees and are viewed positively by economic regulators, who seek to reduce the cost of air travel over time by regulating tariff airport charges for infrastructure and ser- vices to meet real demand.

In the 2007 financial year, passenger service charges on domestic flights fell from R35,09, in 2006, to R26,32, in 2007, regional passenger service charges dropped from R74,56, in 2006, to R53,51, in 2007, and international passenger charges moved from R101,75, in 2006, to R70,18, in 2007.

“The main contributor to this growth of nonaeronautical revenue came from retail at 17,3% growth, advertising at 12,5% growth, car rental at 16% growth, car park operations at 24,5% growth and prop- erty at 24,6% growth,” explains Acsa MD Monhla Hlahla.

Parking revenue, in particular, experienced higher-than-expected growth of 24,5% to R233,7-million. This was largely thanks to the increasing number of domestic passengers, who have a greater demand for parking over a longer duration than international passengers.

“The unexpected demand resulting from the provision of close-structured parking and the need to sterilise certain parking areas for the construction of additional structured parking resulted in saturating parking areas at the international airports during peak hours,” comments Hlahla.

“The detrimental effect this had on service levels was of immense concern to the company and the extent of parking under construction and being planned was reassessed as a matter of the highest priority,” she adds.

This has led to the extent of structured parking under construction at OR Tambo International Airport being increased, and the provision of additional remote parking initiated. The remote parking facility consists of a 2 700-bay expansion programme undertaken at the lower-tariff park-and-ride facility created close to Emperors Palace casino.

At Cape Town International Air- port, a 2 000-bay multistorey parkade was commissioned in May 2006, and the design of a second multi- storey parkade began immediately thereafter. During the final design and procurement phase of this second parkade, it was decided to increase its size, and this will be constructed in the 2007/8 financial year.

In an attempt to further simplify airport visits, Acsa maintains that “the technology for parking credit card-in and -out transactions has been developed to be ready for application once the parking infrastructure is in place”. This will obviate the need for taking a parking ticket on entrance, as well as having to pay at a pay station before returning to one’s vehicle.

“I can confidently say that Acsa will have the infrastructure and resources and will be ready for the FIFA World Cup in 2010,” says Hlahla.

“The more important question on government’s mind is whether, in leveraging the 2010 World Cup, South African institutions will generate infrastructure developments that are sustainable and value adding beyond 2010,” emphasises Minister of Transport Jeff Radebe.