Mthatha Airport joins ACSA stable

Airports Company South Africa is to take over management and operations of Mthatha Airport in terms of an agreement announced today by the Eastern Cape Department of Transport.

The agreement brings to 10 the number of South African airports run by Airports Company South Africa.

In terms of the contract with the Eastern Cape Department of Transport, Airports Company will be responsible for the management of the operations and maintenance of aeronautical and non-aeronautical assets of Mthatha Airport. This includes operation and management of terminals including passenger facilities, compliance with safety, environmental and regulatory requirements and commercialisation of the airport.

ACSA-CEO-Bongani-Maseko

Bongani Maseko, ACSA Chief Executive

Bongani Maseko, chief executive officer of Airports Company South Africa, describes winning the contract as an important step towards achieving the company’s 2025 vision to become the most sought-after partner in the provision of sustainable technical advisory and consultancy services.

“Our new business model is taking us into territory where we are increasingly recognised for our ability to run, develop and grow the footprint of our airports,” he said.

He welcomed the opportunity to extend the company’s presence in the Eastern Cape where it already owns and manages Port Elizabeth International Airport and East London Airport. 

“We have an excellent track record of effectively running smaller regional airports, developing their infrastructure and commercialising them. We are also proud of continuous engagement with the local authorities, business communities and other stakeholders. This engagement enables us to play an active role in supporting economic development in the region,” says Maseko.

Port Elizabeth Airport facilitates 1.3 million passengers a year with a daily average of 65 air traffic movements. East London Airport facilitates more than 665 0000 passengers a year. On-time performance for both airports exceeds 85%.

East London passenger growth was 29% from April to May 2016 compared to 14% growth over the same period in 2015, the highest growth rate for a South African airport. Port Elizabeth passenger growth remained strong at 11% in the period from April to May 2016.

Maseko ascribes the growth to the ability to attract and accommodate new airlines to these airports and the price competition that inevitably follows. 

“Airports Company believes that over time Mthatha Airport has the potential to emulate the kind of performance we have seen in Port Elizabeth and East London,” he says.

Infrastructure at Mthatha Airport has been developed in recent years with the runway extended to 2 600 metres in length and a contract was awarded for the building of a passenger terminal, security fencing, roadways and car rental facilities.

Maseko says Airports Company plans to work with airlines, tourism organisations and local and provincial authorities to thoroughly explore and exploit the range of possibilities.

“Mthatha Airport is an ideal access point for some of the most attractive tourism destinations in South Africa, while there is also industrial potential around the town and access to people ready and able to work. We are therefore going to be encouraging airlines to look at the potential of this destination. We will also work closely with local authorities and business groups on activities to boost growth in the area,” says Maseko.

He says that the cost of flights to Mthatha Airport has already reduced significantly since the introduction of a new airline on the route, Fly Blue Crane.

“Commercialising Mthatha airport is an important element of our contract and we will apply our insight and experience from other airports in South Africa to making the area a hub of growth,” he says.

Maseko also views the Mthatha Airport contract as a vote of confidence in the company’s ability to manage all aspects of airport operations. It also has airport management contracts in Brazil and India, an equity stake in the Brazil operation, and is further contracted to the Ghana Airports Authority for project management of a new airport development.

Author: Muzi Mohale

Hi there, am your host and I blog about the tourism industry in South Africa. You're also welcome to contribute your expert content on matters affecting the industry. You can reach me on muzi[at]tourismedition.com

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