10 May 2010
King Shaka International Airport sets new benchmarks for global infrastructure development while bearing testimony to South Africa’s ability to deliver on large-scale projects, President Jacob Zuma said at the opening of the country’s new airport at La Mercy, north of Durban this weekend.
“Not only was the construction of the project completed in the record time of three years, it also involved the relocation of both the cargo and passenger businesses, from the old airport to these new facilities, in one overnight operational switch,” Zuma said.
“This smooth, seamless transition must surely bear testimony once again to the skills and capability we have as a country.”
Critical diversion facility
In less than 32 days, the world will converge on South Africa and the country will experience its largest wave of aviation traffic in its history when the 2010 Fifa World Cup kicks off.
“We welcome the fact that the airport is going to be a critical diversion facility for OR Tambo International, should this be necessary.
“We are also thrilled by the fact that we are able to present the World Cup in South Africa that is going through a huge building and reconstruction phase. Our infrastructure investment programme is doing wonders for the country economically and socially,” he said.
Encouraging new investment
The new airport will be able to process 7.5-million passengers per annum, while alleviating the pressure on the Durban-Johannesburg road route by facilitating more than 50 000 tons of manufactured goods produced in the region directly from the local airport.
Zuma also called on provincial and local government to encourage new investments in tourism. These tourism packages, he said, should be competitively priced and attractive for foreign visitors, adding that the World Cup offered the country the best opportunity to welcome foreign visitors and ensure they came back again to enjoy what the country has to offer.
“There has never been any doubt in my mind that this airport was the missing piece of the puzzle to enable growth and development in this region and for our country.”