Durban’s La Mercy airport takes shape

24 February 2009

The new La Mercy airport to the north of Durban is starting to take shape, with good progress made on the construction of the cargo and terminal buildings, as well as the air traffic control tower.

“This project is now looking like the vision we had and I am extremely proud of our achievements so far,” Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) project manager Sean van der Valk said in a statement this week.

While construction at the airport is ongoing, Van der Valk said that various specialist teams are in place locally and internationally to test some of the bulk infrastructure, such as the air bridges, baggage systems, cargo systems and public parking systems.

The terminal floor plan has been approved after in-depth discussions with stakeholders and possible tenants, and all concrete work on the building is expected to be complete by the end of March, with exception of the southern ramp and underpass.

Awaiting approval

The detailed design of the multi-story public parking and office block facility is progressing well, and it is estimated that 80% of the project is already complete.

“Teams are awaiting approval of the final office layouts and tenant requirements, while the entrance lobby area and escalator enclosure design already has already been approved,” Acsa said.

Contractors have completed the first sections of the Glidepatch baggage handling system, with the parts of the baggage conveyor already positioned on the arrivals mezzanine level, while 16 passenger boarding bridges have also been manufactured.

The installation of roof sheeting has also commenced at the northern airside corridor, while cargo handling teams have started with the first sections of ULD rack structures already installed in the cargo building.

Meeting deadline

The air traffic control tower was hoisted in record time in December last year, and contractors are currently busy with its roof. Consultations are taking place with Air Traffic and Navigation Systems to review their requirements in terms of the internal layout.

Acsa has also started to advertise and issue tenders for retail opportunities at the airport, consisting of shops and car rental services. The retail tenders were issued at Durban’s International Convention Centre last week, when about 800 people were present at a public session. Once the tenders have gone through a strict evaluation process, the successful business tenants will need to move onsite by the beginning of August.

All these developments have taken place despite work on the aprons and main access road being impacted on due to the poor weather experienced over the past four months.

“Acsa is keeping a watchful eye on the progress of the project and we are happy with the achievements so far,” said Durban International Airport GM Terence Delomoney. “Our teams are ensuring that all operational and statutory processes will be adhered to, and complied with so that we are able to meet the deadline.”

SAinfo reporter

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