Friday, May 31, 2013

■ SOUTH AFRICA: Mthatha Airport's new runway now active; hopes to attract more carriers.

Eastern CapeFollowing extensive works, an SA Airlink (4X) flight from Johannesburg OR Tambo International Airport became the first aircraft to christen the new 2'700x60m runway 14/32 at Mthatha (formerly Umtata) Airport in the Eastern Cape. Both the Mthatha Airport runway and Terminal building upgrade projects form part of the wider King Sabata Dalindyebo Presidential Intervention Project led by the National Department of Transport and implemented by the Eastern Cape Department of Transport.

Mthatha Air Temrinal
Mthatha Air Terminal (TBP)
Via a three phase programme, the Eastern Cape Department of Transport is positioning Mthatha Airport  to be a passenger and freight hub linking road, rail and air transportation thereby turning the city into a gateway to the province. The new runway building, which forms part of the Mthatha Airport Upgrade Phase One, is expected to be completed during the current financial year.
"We appreciate the USD46million (ZAR465 million) allocation for this upgrade project from the National Department of Transport, which is in line with the commitment by national government to help the us through the new ‘South Eastern Node and Corridor’ that is planned for the Eastern Cape through the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission to bolster the province’s industrial and agricultural development and export capacity. This intervention cannot be successful if we cannot have an anchor logistical hub in the centre of the corridor," said MEC Marawu.
This logistical hub will not only serve transportation and trade for the eastern region of the province, but on a local level becomes the next urban centre that complements the development of the first of four nodes for the City of Mthatha.

The department will develop a comprehensive aviation strategy for the province, which will form the basis for engagement with relevant stakeholders in the aviation industry in an effort to identify the best model for the development of Phase 2.

This upgrade project is expected to improve the airport’s capacity as the department continues to lobby and negotiate with more airlines to service the route between Mthatha and Johannesburg (currently only SA Airlink services the route) as well as between Mthatha and Durban. In line with its vision of developing Mthatha Airport as a gateway to the region, the Eastern Cape government hopes to secure service between Cape Town and Mthatha, via Port Elizabeth and Bhisho.