Monday, August 26, 2013

► SOUTH AFRICA: Airlink, FedAir, Lion Sands consortium wins Skukuza upgrade contract; flights due in March 2014.

SA AirlinkSA Airlink (4Z) is set to launch direct flights to Skukuza airport in the Kruger National Park, commencing March 2014. This will see the re-establishment of scheduled air services to one of South Africa's most visited tourist attractions, following the closure of its airport to airline traffic over a decade ago. In 2001, Skukuza Airport's licence was not renewed by the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) after it failed to comply with aviation regulations pertaining to the operation of a commercial aerodrome.

Airlink, together with its partners Lion Sands and Federal Air(7V), established the Skukuza Airport Management Company which has entered into a public-private partnership with SANParks. The partnership will oversee the refurbishment and enhancement of Skukuza Airport runway and terminal building facilities to the international standards required to be able to handle airline traffic. Air navigational procedures for the airport will also be re-designed so as to minimize impact on the environment.
Airlink CEO, Rodger Foster said that: "In terms of the arrangement, Airlink will provide daily scheduled airline services linking Skukuza with Johannesburg's OR Tambo International Airport, Cape Town International Airport and Durban's King Shaka International Airport, and via these hubs and our partnership with South African Airways, together with it's the Star Alliance carrier's global networks, to the rest of the world. Lion Sands will provide hospitality and retail services at the Skukuza airport and Federal Air will supply feeder and charter services carrying passengers between Skukuza and the game lodges in the region. Federal will also provide links from Skukuza to Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport to feed our onward flights to Livingstone in Zambia and Vilanculos in Mozambique".
The venture expects to commission the engineering and construction works to rehabilitate the airfield's sole 1'550m-long runway 17/35 and refurbish the terminal building from September 1, 2013, with the majority of the works to be completed within two months. Once complete, the process of obtaining operational approval for the airport and its facilities in line with SACAA standards, will commence.

It is anticipated that this will be achieved before the start of the 1st Quarter of 2014 with Airlink's scheduled airline services commencing in March 2014.

Airlink plans initially to offer daily flights from Cape Town and a twice-daily service from Johannesburg with flights from Durban King Shaka International to follow.

The return of scheduled air services to Skukuza will enable visitors to fly directly to and from the Kruger National Park.

SANParks CEO Dr. David Mabunda said:
"SAN Parks' long haul clients and those from major centres will no longer be subjected to a torturous life-risking 1-2 hrs journey on poorly maintained roads from Nelspruit to the Kruger National Park. We are reliving a tradition that started in 1959 to enhance visitor convenience and experience. I look forward to working with our new partners in taking the business of managing national parks assets to another level," he said.
Flight schedules and fares will be circulated to the travel trade and flight seat inventory will be displayed and will be bookable via agent Global Distribution Systems and flysaa.com from September 2013.