Tuesday, September 17, 2013

■ SOUTH AFRICA: New $41mln Somerset East mini-Aerotropolis to be completed next year.

The town of Somerset East in the province of the Eastern Cape in South Africa will next year begin operating a new ZAR413million (USD40.9million) regional airport aimed at boosting the region's connectivity and economic profile.

Speaking during a visit to the town, situated roughly 160km north of Port Elizabeth, this past weekend, South Africa's Minister for Rural Development and Land Reform, Mr. Gugile Nkwinti, said his department would hand over the airport, the fifth in the province, next year.
The airport will be a regional operation to boost tourism and commercial activity in the area. Construction is underway and we expect it to conclude sometime in 2014,” the Department's media spokesman, Mtobeli Mxotwa, told SAPA.
According to the Blue Crane Development Agency (BCDA), the firm responsible for overseeing the project, the airport was specifically designed to stimulate the regional economy. Additional spinoff downstream aviation projects and other opportunities that the airport will enable are also expected to boost job creation in the area. The Airport Project is directly linked to the macro ZAR1billion Boschberg Development nodes being developed by the BCDA and collectively, the projects are set to create an estimated two thousand jobs in the medium term.

Somerset East Aerodrome schematic (Click to Enlarge)
(Blue Crane Development Agency)
Situated only sixty kilometres from the Addo Elephant National Park, the Somerset East Airport project plans to offer an ideal business nucleus project to many small downstream entrepreneurial businesses such as tour operators, light industrial activity, aircraft manufacturers, and a proposed flying school.

The following components were completed by the end of 2007 within the initial funding grant budget:
  • An electrified perimeter security fence;
  • Two aircraft hangars;
  • Terminal buildings;
  • Two grass runways have been completed and are operational;
  • Bulk services; and
  • 65% of new main runway (the extension of which could see larger aircraft land).
This airport will also provide the northern gate of the Addo Elephant National Park with a closer and alternative air based gateway.