Wednesday, August 21, 2013

■ SOUTH AFRICA: Gauteng calls for study on potential new international airport for Johannesburg as part of 25-Year Transport Plan.

GautengThe Gauteng MEC for Roads and Transport, Dr Ismail Vadi, this week released the "25-Year Integrated Transport Master Plan (ITMP25)" for Ekurhuleni, the local authority and government for Gauteng, South Africa's former East Rand area, to ensure province-wide mobility in future for all residents. The 25 year plan, developed by an inter-disciplinary team of experts led by Gautrain CEO Jack van der Merwe, provides an assessment of the current transport and land-use challenges. It also forecasts economic and population growth scenarios, which have been used to plan the future transport needs and solutions in the province. Pertaining to aviation, the Plan states that OR  Tambo  International  Airport  will  remain the main airport serving Gauteng and South Africa but notes that "a thorough study should be done to determine the feasibility and, if found necessary, land should be reserved to develop a second major airport in Gauteng which can accommodate wide body aircraft up to and including the A380."


Gauteng, while the smallest of South Africa's provinces, is considered the country's economic hub and contributes heavily in the financial, manufacturing, transport, technology, and telecommunications sectors, among others. It also plays host to a large number of overseas companies requiring a commercial base in and gateway to Africa. The megalopolis of Pretoria, Centurion, Midrand, Johannesburg and the Vaal Triangle has a combined population of 12million or roughly 20% of South Africa's total.

The aviation component of the integrated transport master plan addresses an analysis of Gauteng's airspace, the need for a dedicated cargo airport, the need to designate more airports with international status and a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats) analysis of the major airports to indicate how aviation could contribute to the economic growth in Gauteng.

Johannesburg OR Tambo International Airport

OR Tambo Pax Projections through 2013 - 2037 (SAGovernment)
Passenger Traffic
The plan foresees a fully developed Johannesburg OR Tambo International Airport, Africa's busiest airport, as outstripping its projected maximum passenger throughput capacity of 55million pax/annum come 2037 (2045 using pessimistic projections - See Above). In order to curb any possible negative impact caused by a capacity shortfall on the local and South African economy as a whole, the Plan states that various alternatives have been identified to address this shortfall namely:
  • The identification and reservation of land to construct a second major intercontinental airport. (This aspect was addressed in the 5 year plan announced last year and a thorough study will be executed to determine the necessity and will, if necessary, select a suitable site);
  • The development of City Airports (Johannesburg Lanseria & Pretoria Wonderboom) to supplement OR Tambo International Airport;
  • Restrictions on the minimum aircraft size using OR Tambo International Airport by means of a price regime forcing smaller aircraft to use alternative airports. 
Regarding the future role of OR Tambo International Airport, in 2037 it is envisaged that the airport will still be the main airport serving southern Africa. It is further anticipated that at that stage the Midfield Terminal (See Below) complex will be developed as well as the Ekurhuleni Aerotropolis, which should enhance traffic volumes and non-aviation revenue generated on the Airport.

The Plan lists two smaller, domestic and regionally oriented freight hubs which will incorporate airports to supplement their road and rail operations namely:
  • The Vaal Logistics Hub (VLH): an initiative by the Sedibeng District Municipality, The Emfuleni Local Municipality and University of the NorthWest. The VLH is an intermodal hub (road, rail and air) that will consist of a container depot, an IDZ, and an international airport.
  • Tshwane Intermodal Freight Hub: The area earmarked by the City of Tshwane (Pretoria) can be developed as an intermodal freight hub with road and rail connections; and an airport. The hub will be an intermodal hub that includes  road, rail and also air modes of transport.  The freight hub has the objective to serve as a regional freight logistics hub for the  Southern African region 2 . Land ownership remains one of the major issues.
Although the Tshwane Intermodal Freight Hub and the Vaal Logistics Hub are proposed air cargo hubs for Gauteng, the most significant air cargo operations remain at O.R. Tambo International Airport. Cargo operations at O.R. Tambo International have grown significantly over the last 40 years and air freight has reached such volumes that the airport is looking to establish a new cargo hub. 

OR Tambo's Envisaged Midfield Terminal & Runways
OR Tambo's Envisaged Midfield Terminal & Runways(NACO)

Dubbed 'Midfield Cargo', the new facility will be located between the two runways and is viewed as a long-term solution to current and future capacity demand, as discussed in the airport's master plan. With O.R. Tambo handling some 300,000 tonnes of cargo in 2009 airport planners are looking to create new synergies in the handling of logistics and the new facility will allow the gateway to handle 1 million tonnes of cargo annually. As per the national intention of consolidating ORTIA as the preferred hub for the region, the airport masterplan calls for the consolidation of all air freight activity in a cargo terminal in the so-called Midfield Terminal.

A previous study into developing an exclusively freight-oriented airport has been rejected as, according to the Plan, with over 90% of all air cargo in South Africa transported in the bellies of passenger aircraft, and a maximum of four dedicated cargo aircraft departing OR Tambo International Airport per day, it would thus prove to be "very difficult to justify the development of an exclusive freight airport."

The Plan recommends that the Gauteng Provincial Government does not support the development of a dedicated freight airport in the short to medium term but does not discount its possible construction in the long term.

Johannesburg Lanseria International Airport

Lanseria runway construction works
Privately owned, Lanseria International Airport is being developed with the construction of a new Code 4D runway which will thus enable the airport to accommodate Boeing 767-size aircraft on longhaul flights. With the added expansion of terminal facilities to meet the demand from LCCs, the Plan notes Lanseria's niche market is changing from a solely corporate and general aviation airport into a City Airport supplementing OR Tambo International Airport. Irrespective of the growing scheduled activities at the airport, the corporate aviation sector has also made major investments in hangarage and other modern facilities at Lanseria. With its major aircraft servicing facilities that attract numerous clients from all over Africa, and its own Aerotropolis Project
 - a joint venture with the Johannesburg Metropolitan City, The Plan envisages Lanseria as a major player even beyond 2037.

The Plan states that a fully developed Aerotropolis at Lanseria can change the character of the facility from a city airport to a fully fledge intercontinental airport and should be considered in the analysis of the necessity to develop a second major intercontinental airport.

Pretoria Wonderboom Airport

Wonderboom Airport
Wonderboom Airport, the second busiest airport in Gauteng in terms of aircraft movements, is owned and operated by the City of Tshwane, formerly Pretoria. Located north of Pretoria and north of the Magaliesberg mountain range, its elevation is much lower than either OR Tambo or Lanseria and with its differing weather patterns, makes it an ideal spot to develop a second city airport offering scheduled services.

However, its limited runway 11/29 (1'828m) has put off prospective scheduled operators. Therefore, the Plan for the airport makes provision for the lengthening of the runway by an additional 300m, which would change its classification to Code 3C. This will enable potential scheduled operators to operate scheduled flights with financial feasible load factors on the golden triangle (Gauteng to Durban and Gauteng to Cape Town) and in southern Africa with flight sectors up to Nairobi and Luanda, provided it can be designated as an international airport.

A further major concern is accessibility. Although the airport is located close to the N4 freeway, the interchange that could connect the airport with the N4 freeway has only been partly constructed. This issue is also addressed in the airport development plan. In the medium term, Wonderboom Airport will most probably develop into a city airport with regular scheduled services to major destinations in South Africa and across South Africa's borders.

Furthermore, The Plan sees a number of the MRO firms and a portion of the general aviation market being served by Lanseria "probably relocating to Wonderboom."

Download the Full 25-Year Integrated Transport Master Plan (ITMP25) here [Registration Required].