Bulk will be spent on improving OR Tambo International

The OR Tambo International Airport will be a hive of activity over the next few years with construction to extend and increase its capacity.

At present the airport sees passenger traffic of 32,8-million people a year, which is expected to increase to more than 45-million by 2010.

The Airports Company SA (Acsa) will spend close to R20-billion on the infrastructure developments at its network of 10 airports in the next five years.

The bulk of this R12,4-billion will be spent at OR Tambo, R5,8-billion at La Mercy International in Durban and R2,5-billion at Cape Town International Airport.

John Neville, group executive of Aviation Services, said yesterday the money would be spent on:

  • Provision of the international terminal capacity needed to cope at peak hours;
  • Integrating domestic and international terminals;
  • A380 capability (wide-body aircraft);
  • Integration with the Gautrain;
  • Additional airline lounges and shops; and
  • Expansion and refurbishment of runways to ensure readiness for the World Cup.

“Acsa has been experiencing, and will continue to experience, strong demand growth due to the rapidly growing GDP in South Africa and the surrounding geographical region, as well as the upcoming 2010 World Cup,” said Khulile Boqwana, Acsa’s group specialist for economic regulation.

“To fully appreciate the impact that current and expected passenger growth has had on business, we will have to spend about R4,9-billion by the end of March next year.

“This is an enormous leap, considering that we spent about the same amount over the previous five-year period.”

The R4,9-billion is part of the R19,3-billion infrastructure development programme that Acsa has embarked on for the five-year period ending in 2012.

Boqwana also said passenger demand, on the back of strong economic performance, was largely driven by the entry of low-cost carriers into a market where a growing proportion of the population could now afford air travel.

Bongani Maseko, group executive of operations, said he was pleased that the regulator had authorised new tariffs and that this would make it possible for Acsa to undertake its development programme.

“Unfortunately, the flying public is often misled when it comes to facts about what constitutes airport taxes,” he said.

“These charges are often lumped together with other taxes and called airport taxes, giving the impression that the entire tax is paid to Acsa.

“The truth is that only the passenger service charge component accrues to Acsa.”

Passenger service tariffs for the next financial year are R32,46 for domestic flights; R66,67 for flights to Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland; R87,72 for international flights. The fees exclude VAT.