The City of Johannesburg plans to study the economic viability of the creation of a new specialist airport to cater for either cargo or passenger growth, and has issued a tender calling for bids from consultants interested in conducting the feasibility study.

The city, which is also Africa’s wealthiest, already has two international (OR Tambo and Lanseria) and two regional (Rand and Grand Central) airports within relatively close proximity. However, it should be noted that both OR Tambo International Aiport and Rand Airport fall outside the Johannesburg metro- politan boundaries.

The proposal also comes about a decade after the so-called Springs–Nigel International Airport proposal, which was roundly rejected by the authorities at the time.

Details are sketchy, but the call for proposals suggests that the consultants will also be asked to consider the appropriate “functional specialisation” for a new airport, suggesting that the new facility could have a bias towards either airfreight or passengers.

The tender notes that, in order for South Africa to achieve its stated growth goal of 6% from 2010, Johannesburg’s growth rate would need to exceed 9% and that additional airport infrastructure could serve as a further catalyst for such growth.

No mention, however, is made of South Africa’s prevailing power crisis, which could limit prospects for large-scale developments of the kind envisaged.

But it acknowledges that the development will need to take into account other economic activities and infrastructure projects that could have a bearing on its viability.

The initiative is being overseen by the city’s Economic Development Department, which has invited proposals from “suitably qualified ser- vice providers: to assist with the study”.

“The scope of the work includes, but is not limited to, stakeholder identification and analysis, analysis of national freight logistics, the comparative analysis on the expansion of existing airports versus the development of a new one, economic sustainability and viability, roles of other spheres of government, financial models and operational models,” the tender, labelled A273, states.

A copy of the proposal is available for a nonrefundable deposit of R100 and the closing date for submission is March 25, 2008.