SOUTH AFRICA – Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) is set to finance R21.7 billion (USD 1.12 billion) into a comprehensive airport development initiative, marking its most significant capital investment program since the preparations for the 2010 World Cup.

The investment is aimed at refurbishing existing facilities, improving efficiency, and ensuring statutory compliance, ultimately enhancing airport safety and elevating passenger experiences across the country’s airports.

Minister of Transport Sindisiwe Chikunga expressed her enthusiasm for the ambitious project during a recent media briefing on the state of the aviation sector.

She emphasized the pivotal role this investment plays in reinforcing South Africa’s position as a global aviation leader.

“This will see our already world-class airports increasing the airport facilities to continue leading as Africa’s best airports and increasing our position globally,” Minister Chikunga declared.

The primary focus of the two-year plan involves vital capacity expansion projects at Chief Dawid Stuurman International Airport (Gqeberha) and George Airport, specifically targeting the expansion of terminal facilities.

Chikunga highlighted the urgency at George Airport due to the airport passenger throughput surpassing its design capacity pre-Covid-19.

“Acsa plans to embark on crucial capacity expansion projects at Chief Dawid Stuurman International Airport (Gqeberha) and George Airport, focusing on expansion of their terminal facilities,” she stated.

“The terminal expansion project at George Airport is set to commence at the earliest opportunity due to the airport passenger throughput having passed its design capacity pre-Covid-19. This will be followed by Chief Dawid Stuurman Airport within the next year or two.”

The development plan includes a new cargo terminal, Mid-field Cargo, at OR Tambo International Airport, prioritized to meet increasing demand.

Later, Acsa will undertake the construction of the Mid-field Passenger Terminal. Minister Chikunga elaborated on the extensive projects at OR Tambo International Airport, which includes the extension of busing gates, retail spaces, and the addition of a new mezzanine level.

“At Cape Town International Airport, priority will be the domestic arrivals terminal reconfiguration to meet growing capacity needs,” Chikunga outlined.

“This encompasses enlarging the meet and greet area, expansion of the baggage claim area, an additional baggage carousel, expansion of the domestic departures lounge, retail spaces, and ablution facilities, as well as the addition of three new contact gates and fixed boarding bridges.”

Beyond infrastructure expansion, Acsa is committed to continual review and adaptation of its airport master plans.

Minister Chikunga emphasized the dual objectives of meeting current infrastructure needs and preparing for future demands to establish a resilient air transport system for South Africa.

The comprehensive investment also extends to King Shaka International Airport, King Phalo Airport, and a heightened focus on digital innovation within the Air Traffic and Navigation Services SOC (ATNS).

Chikunga highlighted the importance of cybersecurity in tandem with embracing digitalization, acknowledging the future of freight as digital.

“The truth of the matter is that the future of freight is digital…Therefore, a robust air cargo system is essential for global trade, speed, efficiency, connectivity, supply chain resilience, economic growth, and the timely delivery of essential goods and services,” Minister Chikunga asserted.

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