|Visitors to next year’s Soccer World Cup will be able to check in at soccer stadiums and board any airline regardless of which one issued the tickets.
The service is part of plans by Airports Company SA (Acsa) to cope with 450000 fans expected in the country next June. Fans are expected to be staying around the country and flying into cities for particular matches, putting pressure on airports and domestic airlines.
Bongani Maseko, group executive overseeing airports operations at Acsa, said yesterday that a team would travel to Rome next week for the Uefa Champions League final between Manchester United and Barcelona to observe the logistics of moving fans in and out the city.
â€œIt is as close to a World Cup match as we can get, and we want to establish the feasibility of checking in passengers at the stadium.â€
Maseko said that Acsa was also in talks with airlines about the possibility of passengers using a ticket on any airline. â€œThe emphasis is on getting passengers moving as quickly as possible.â€
Main airports were also expected to be open 24 hours a day. â€œThe biggest pressure will be in the first round when we have 32 teams playing 48 matches in 10 cities. Our main airports will operate 24 hours while the smaller airports will extend their hours.â€
Acsa had already approached the retailers and ramp handlers at the airport as well as Air Traffic and Navigational Service to provide an extended service.
Additional temporary staff would also be employed over the period, but only permanent Acsa staff would be used in secure or regulated areas.
Maseko said he was concerned about the available seat capacity on domestic routes, particularly to smaller destinations such as Polokwane and Bloemfontein. â€œIf you look at an airport such as Bloemfontein, on any given day there are no more than 4000 seats available on airlines serving the city, and yet the stadiums seat between 40000 and 50000 people. It is clear that we will need to double or even triple capacity on match days.â€
All domestic airlines have begun planning for 2010.
Maseko said planning was complicated by Fifa finalising its match schedule only in December.
â€œOnce we know which teams have qualified, and where they are playing, we will be able to put more specific plans in place.â€