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Tuesday Dec 10, 2013

Cape Town airport to get R3bn upgrade

Growing demand for flights combined with the larger aircraft now coming into use was making it necessary to realign the two runways at Cape Town International Airport, airport general manager Deon Cloete said last week.

This would create space for the passenger terminals to be changed from an elongated rectangle to a square shape with less walking necessary.

The estimated cost is R3 billion and Cloete said: 'We are looking into the most affordable way to get this muchneeded work done.'
Since much of the cost was likely to be borne by the airlines, whose profits had been eroded by a combination of high airport taxes and high fuel prices, they would be consulted before any commitments were made, Cloete said. The final decision on the work to be carried out would not be made without their consent.

The present runways, constructed many years ago, intersect and their siting has made it necessary for the terminals that were improved and enlarged three years ago to be in an elongated shape that makes it necessary for passengers to walk considerable distances.

Apart from enabling this to be changed, relocating the runways would enable the airport to handle an increased number of flights, with taxiing aircraft able to come off at speed.

Cloete said the number of international flights arriving in Cape Town was growing, despite the fact that Johannesburg's OR Tambo International Airport had been developed as South Africa's main hub for international flights. Although growth in domestic flights was 'lacklustre', this was about to change with more competition on the route between Cape Town and Johannesburg.

Airlines are complaining about the high airport taxes, to fund improvements to Cape Town and Johannesburg airports over which they were not consulted, and construction of Durban's King Shaka International Airport in time for the 2010 World Cup. Most of the cost of this work has been passed on to them.

But Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) pointed out that Cape Town's airport was already inadequate for the number of passengers passing through it by the start of 2010. During the year, the space in which passengers waited for flights after passing through security became so inadequate that it had to be supplemented by a marquee.

Few international flights fly to King Shaka airport as yet, with most arriving in Johannesburg, where passengers for Durban transfer to local flights.

However, King Shaka airport and the Dube Tradeport are focal points for an aerotropolis of industrial, commercial and residential development growing up around it over the next few years. An increase in commercial and industrial development is also happening around Cape Town's airport.

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