An air-traffic tangle above Durban is threatening the launch of one of South Africa’s major 2010 World Cup transport hubs – the R6.7-billion King Shaka airport. The row concerns the rights of private air companies from the Virginia airport to use the airspace near the glossy new international airport.  Virginia is one of the country’s busiest flight training airports, and offers a major South African Air Force heli-copter training programme.

The sky above King Shaka was originally a designated training area, but it is now out of bounds for trainee pilots, according to the proposed airspace plan.  The private flight school operators have rejected all proposals by the Air Traffic Navigational Services, which manages the country’s skyways.

Gawie Bestbier, chairman of the National Airspace Committee, said a working group had been set up to resolve the impasse, but its first meeting this week was inconclusive. Bestbier said a solution would have to be found by mid-December, otherwise the commissioner for Civil Aviation would simply make a ruling.