Construction work on key projects at OR Tambo International Airport and at Cape Town International Airport are continuing, as part of airport operator Airports Company South Africa’s (Acsa’s) ten airport upgrade project in preparation for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Acsa communications manager Solomon Makgale says that the three key projects at OR Tambo include the construction of a central terminal building (CTB), an additional multistorey parkade (MSP 2), and the international departures upgrade and relocation of the upper roadway.

“It is envisaged that the completion of these projects will signal a new era in operations at OR Tambo and confirm the airport as one of the best in the world,” comments Makgale.

He explains that the CTB construction is the largest single project Acsa has ever embarked on.

“Construction is progressing well and, once complete, it will provide the required international terminal capacity in terms of holding lounges, airside commercial areas and boarding gates. In addition, four 90-m baggage carousels will be up and running for the massive new-gener- ation aircraft, such as the Airbus A380,” states Makgale.

He says that this development will undoubtedly help ensure that OR Tambo is fully prepared for the 2010 World Cup.

The CTB will comprise a multilevel terminal building located between the international and domestic terminals.

In line with existing airport flow, departures activity will take place predominantly on the upper level, while arrivals activity will occur on the ground level. Mezzanine levels will be developed for commercial activities together with basements for services and baggage handling.

“The Gautrain station and the rail line will be elevated above the airport precinct, over the upper roadway system. It will be directly connected to the CTB and will, therefore, enjoy all the amenities offered within the CTB and the other terminal buildings,” explains Makgale.

Meanwhile, the R470-million MSP 2 project includes the provision of 5 200 parking bays. In addition to this added capacity, the new parkade will boast other facilities, including a pay-on-foot system, which is an automated payment system that will accept cash and all major credit cards.

Visitors will be able to pay for parking using their credit cards at exit booms. Debit cards will also be accepted at Acsa parking offices.

Airport parking areas will include a licence plate recognition system, which will capture an image of the vehicle and driver, automatically recording the registration number of the vehicle on the parking ticket.

Once the driver has paid for parking and inserts the exit ticket at the boom, the system will automatically reconcile the registration number on the ticket with the registration number of the exiting vehicle. The boom will only open if the number on the ticket corresponds with the registration number of the ticket.

Makgale explains that the system will shut down a potential exit strategy for car thieves and will be a useful customer service tool. “With just a registration number, parking authorities will be able to identify the date and time at which the parking area was accessed, as well as the level at which the client entered. This would also be useful in helping drivers allocate lost vehicles when they forget to note their colour- coded parking level.”

The parkade will boast full internal connectivity, and people will be able to gain access to any floor once within the parkade. Also, drivers will be able to gain access to the existing multi-storey parkade from the second, third and fourth floors of the new parkade.

Moreover, construction on the R76-million terminal A departures upgrade and relocation of the upper roadway is under way.

“The new upper roadway system that is currently under way at OR Tambo, will make way for a new concourse on the international departures level in the international departures terminal building,” says Makgale.

The completion of the new upper roadway system project is the first phase in the international departures terminal upgrade project. This will make way for the second phase of the project, which will entail the development of a new spacious public concourse at international departures.

The new upper roadway system is being built to direct traffic around the existing covered roadway system, and will also act as the current international departures drop-off zone.

“The new upper roadway system was completed in April 2007. This left the road clear for the start of development on the new public concourse, which is expected to get under way thereafter. The new development allows for the creation of a new wider concourse, which will include additional retail space and an increased passenger counter space, which will allow Acsa to reconfigure counters to airlines,” says Makgale. He says that the development will create a larger public circulation space, and increased capacity for the processing of passengers.

The additional retail space will accommodate food and beverage vendors, newsagents and an open deck area that will enable visitors and passengers to relax.

Meanwhile, Acsa is investing more than R1,3-billion on the upgrade and improvement of airport infrastructure and facilities at Cape Town International Airport. Makgale says the airport will undergo a complete transformation within the next two years.

The developments currently under way include a new CTB with an upper departures level and a lower arrivals level, and will allow for the processing of international and domestic passengers through a common check-in and security screening area.

The five-storey building will be equipped with advanced equipment to help improve airport operations, including a fully automated baggage sorting system.

The construction of an elevated roadway above the current drop-off roadway in front of the terminals is continuing.

Similar to OR Tambo’s, the upper level will serve as a drop-off area for departing passengers, and the bottom road will be a pick-up point for arriving passengers.

“In order to accommodate the elevated roadway, the entire airport road network will change. Work on the changes to the road network has already begun and currently the contractors are focusing on com-pleting the upper roadway,” comments Makgale.

Construction of a second multi-storey parkade, which will be built directly opposite the current international terminal, is well under way. The parkade will be almost double the size of the current parkade and will significantly improve the airport’s parking capacity.

“Construction of the parkade, which will have about 800 bays a floor is moving swiftly. Currently, there are three tower cranes dedicated to the construction and pillars are already very visible,” says Makgale.

In addition, construction of a public transport plaza in front of the CTB, which will cater for tour operators’ coaches, combis, mini-bus taxis and maxi taxis is progressing.

Makgale adds that, on the airside, additional aircraft parking stands will be built as well as air bridges for boarding and disembarking passengers.

Makgale assures that all construction projects will be completed by 2010.

He concludes that the infrastructure, efficiency capability and service elements of Acsa’s airports play a significant role not only in determining a visitor’s impression of the region, but also in setting the tone for the visitor’s experience. “This is why we are committed to improving not only the infrastructure at the airport, but also the service levels.”

PUBLICATION: Engineering News
AUTHOR: Chanel Pringle
DATED: 28th March 2008