Zuma wants KZN airport to start buzzing
President Jacob Zuma has challenged the KwaZulu-Natal government to "up its game" in marketing King Shaka International Airport and developing it into SA'S secondary hub airport.
"This airport bears the name of a great leader, innovator, military and political strategist who is respected and admired worldwide," Zuma said at the official opening of Dube Tradeport yesterday.
"For this reason, it has to conquer, expand and grow, like its namesake... But something is missing... you have not marketed King Shaka sufficiently.
"The time has come to think of this airport as South Africa's secondary hub and not just as a regional feeder airport. It should aggressively market itself as a key entry point for international routes."
The provincial government and Dube Tradeport have been fighting a losing battle to get SAA to reestablish international flights from Durban. The government is also furious at SAA'S move to drop its Durban-cape Town route last year.
KZN has failed to lure international carriers to Durban's new airport, with only Emirates operating a daily flight to Dubai.
King Shaka International faces a further setback as Air Mauritius announced last month that it is to withdraw flights to Durban from October.
But Zuma had some good news. He said the airport was set to become the regional hub airport for SA Express flights to Southern African Development Community countries. The move was aimed at using SA airports to promote "the African agenda" and economic growth in the region.
"SA Express has concluded an agreement with the Dube TradePort Corporation, which will see a connection from King Shaka Airport to the region, especially to Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana and Mozambique."
The operation could later expand to Namibia, Malawi, Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zuma said.
Despite failing to secure new international routes out of Durban, King Shaka Airport was growing and would pass the five million passengers mark this year.
"Passenger traffic is growing at a healthy 3.8 percent, which is higher than the national average growth of 2.8 percent," he said.
A life-sized statue of John Langalibalele Dube, first president of the ANC and after whom Dube Tradeport is named, was unveiled by Zuma in Dube Square yesterday. The event also marked the launch of the second phase of development of the multibillion-rand project, in which an "airport city" is to take shape over the next few decades.
Premier Zweli Mkhize said the long-term strategic objective of the project was the establishment of an "aerotropolis" north of Durban, stretching from Umhlanga to Ballito.
It is envisaged that hotels, office blocks, and retail, entertainment and other commercial developments will spring up around the airport.
Dube Tradeport's property executive, Hamish Erskine, said yesterday that a R350 million deal, the first major private sector investment in the trade port's cargo zone, had been signed.
"Durban-based Shree Property Group will be building a 100 000m² warehouse and logistics facility catering for the airfreight industry... We believe it will spur investment into Dube Tradeport," he said.
Posted at 07:57AM Mar 09, 2012 by Editor in Cities and Towns |