George Airport upgrade complete

28 September 2007

Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) this month completed its R42.5-million upgrade of George Airport on the Western Cape’s Garden Route, ensuring that the facility will meet requirements for the 2010 Fifa World Cup and beyond.

A company statement shows that annual passenger traffic at the airport, which serves the scenic southern part of the country, is forecast to reach almost one million in 2012 from projections of almost 670 000 in the current financial year.

The design and planning of the upgrade to the airport began in September 2004 and work was carried out in three phases.

Phase one entailed an internal upgrade creating space for more check-in counters and airline operators, phase two comprised civil earthworks, and phase three involved the actual building upgrade and additions to the existing terminal.

The company states that it has made the terminal more aesthetically appealing by using darker shades that match the natural sand colour common to the George vicinity and also by using tiling featuring cultural Ndebele art on the borders between the floors and walls.

Acsa managing director Monhla Hlala explained that the civil earthworks included the construction of a new 206-bay rental car parking area and a new staff parking area with 105 bays, both of which would free up more existing parking space for the public.

In addition, a new freestanding car rental building was constructed.

She said that black economic empowerment participation in the project amounted to 34%, demonstrating Acsa’s commitment to bring more previously disadvantaged individuals into the mainstream economy.

“Over and above, meeting the infrastructure needs for 2010, Acsa always strives to ensure convenience and comfort for those using its facilities,” she said. “The new developments at the George Airport are in that spirit and in accordance with our long-term planning agenda.”

George Airport was built in 1977 as an exact replica of Keetmanshoop Airport in Namibia. Apart from playing an important role in the region’s tourist economy, it also acts as a distribution hub for cargo such as flowers, fish, oysters, herbs and ferns.

Carriers operating from the airport include South African Express, South African Airlink, Nationwide, Kulula.com and 1time, while other traffic includes numerous private jets, general aviation and flight training schools.

With passenger traffic to South Africa’s main airports expected to be in excess of 45-million passengers a year by 2012, up from the current figure of almost 33-million, Acsa plans to spend R19.3-billion on infrastructural developments at its network of 10 airports over the next five years.

SAinfo reporter

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