Planned R3bn up­rade to air­port will have pas­sen­gers smil­ing


Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - TRAVEL 2013 - AU­DREY D’AN­GELO

SO MUCH is hap­pen­ing – or is go­ing to hap­pen – in the air­line busi­ness that it’s hard to know where to start.

Deon Cloete, the gen­eral man­ager of Cape Town Air­port, is hop­ing to be given the go-ahead to start a R3 bil­lion pro­gramme to re­align its two run­ways to han­dle more air­line traf­fic more ef­fi­ciently, to cope with the larger air­craft air­lines are ac­quir­ing.

He says the re­align­ment will also cre­ate the space for the pas­sen­ger ter­mi­nals, which have reg­u­larly been judged the best in Africa, to be changed from their present elon­gated shape to a more com­pact square one, cut­ting out much of the walk­ing pas­sen­gers have to do. But apart from the need for Acsa (the Air­ports Com­pany SA) to de­cide def­i­nitely on this pro­gramme and on how to raise the money, Cloete says they will also ask the air­lines to agree to the de­tails and will not go ahead with­out this.

Most of the air­lines us­ing our air­port com­plained about the cost of the im­prove­ments car­ried out with­out con­sul­ta­tion here and in Joburg and Dur­ban in time for the Fifa World Cup in 2010. Most of the costs have been passed on in the form of higher air­port charges. But many of the im­prove­ments at Cape Town were needed be­cause of the huge growth in the num­ber of flights and pas­sen­gers since the end of apartheid and the lift­ing of sanc­tions.

In the months be­fore the soc­cer World Cup, a mar­quee had to be used in Cape Town to ac­com­mo­date the num­ber of pas­sen­gers wait­ing for flights af­ter pass­ing through se­cu­rity. How­ever, part of the rea­son for the high charges at all of South Africa’s state-owned air­ports is that they in­clude work car­ried out in de­vel­op­ing the new King Shaka Air­port at Dur­ban in time for the World Cup which, it was sug­gested, was car­ried out sev­eral years be­fore it was needed.

Few in­ter­na­tional air­lines have so far used King Shaka, pre­fer­ring to ar­rive in South Africa at Joburg’s OR Tambo Air­port, from where Dur­ban-bound pas­sen­gers go on with do­mes­tic flights.

In the mean­time, Bri­tish Air­ways – one of the few in­ter­na­tional air­lines to fly into Cape Town all year round – has an­nounced that in­stead of re­duc­ing its ser­vices be­tween here and Lon­don from two a day in sum­mer to one a day dur­ing our win­ter, it will pro­vide 10 a week to en­cour­age more busi­ness travel.

This will help to com­pen­sate for SAA’s with­drawal of all ser­vices be­tween Cape Town and Lon­don to use its fleet on im­prov­ing its route net­work into Africa.

Fears that SAA’s with­drawal would hit our tourism in­dus­try have proved ground­less, with Air France and hol­i­day air­line Con­dor, based in Frank­furt, join­ing sev­eral Euro­pean air­lines in pro­vid­ing flights to Cape Town dur­ing the sum­mer months. But most of th­ese air­lines with­draw in our win­ter.

Turk­ish Air­lines, a four-star air­line which also flies here all year round and is a part­ner of SAA in the in­ter­na­tional Star Al­liance, has been awarded the cov­eted CAPA (Cen­tre for Avi­a­tion) Air­line of the Year award for ex­cel­lence and for hav­ing the great­est im­pact on the de­vel­op­ment of the in­dus­try.

Pre­sent­ing the award this week, Peter Har­bi­son, the ex­ec­u­tive chair­man of CAPA – the lead- ing provider of air­line in­tel­li­gence and data – said Turk­ish had cre­ated the world’s largest in­ter­na­tional net­work, fly­ing to 200 des­ti­na­tions from its home air­port in Is­tan­bul. He said it had forged an in­dus­try-lead­ing ser­vice cul­ture, of­fer­ing a con­sis­tently high-qual­ity prod­uct.

Cov­eted Sky­trax awards it has won dur­ing the past four years in­cluded those for best air­line in Europe, best busi­ness class cater­ing, best econ­omy class cater­ing and best on-board food.

RE­ALIGN­MENT: Cape Town In­ter­na­tional Air­port hopes to en­large its run­ways to ac­com­mo­date big­ger air­craft.

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