Terminal 2010, the multimillion-rand central terminal building under construction at Cape Town International Airport, is to be opened on November 7 – months before schedule, the Airports Company of South Africa (Acsa) says.

Construction of the R1,5-billion, five-storey terminal is more than 90 percent complete.

The terminal has 120 check-in counters, 20 self-service check-in machines, eight air bridges, 11 bus gates, and an automated baggage sorting system.

Acsa said the baggage sorting system would be tested well before the launch to avoid any possible hitches.

The same baggage system flopped when it was used for the first time on the opening day of Heathrow’s Terminal 5 in London last year.

Thousands of passengers were left stranded at the airport. British Airways (BA) and airport management blamed the delaying of more than 50 flights on “teething problems”.

Adele Klingenberg, Acsa Cape Town’s infrastructure and planning manager, confirmed that the new terminal would open on November 7.

Klingenberg said Cape Town was basically getting a brand-new airport.

“Everything will be new and advanced,” she said.

“The new terminal will be similar to the one at OR Tambo International in Johannesburg, but with a Cape Town feel. When you walk into the new terminal, you will be able to see Table Mountain on one side and the Plattekloof mountains on the other.”

The combined domestic and international terminal will have a number of popular retail outlets and shops, a food court, and a public viewing deck from which families may watch aircraft land and take off.

On the ground floor, a few metres from the main entrance, a transport plaza – where passengers will be able to catch a bus or taxi – is being built. This is to be connected to the city’s integrated rapid transit (IRT) network once it is launched.

Two subways are being built on the ground floor to enable pedestrians to avoid motorists on the airport’s new arrivals level.

One of the airport’s biggest challenges for 2010, said Klingenberg, was the land transport management system for the event. A plan was being drawn up by the city.

Without one, passengers might be late for matches or miss flights after games.

“We are meeting the city’s transport team on a two-weekly basis to get this process right.”