East London Airport poised to soar to new heights

12 October 2018
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East London Airport is flying – and a huge upgrade starting next year will see it reach even greater heights.

Airport manager Michael Kernekamp told a media briefing hosted by Airports Company South Africa that the loss of the SA Express flights had been picked up quickly by other airlines, which had the effect of bringing in new passengers.

The next phase of big projects will bring ease and convenience to airport clients and add lustre to Buffalo City Metro and the Eastern Cape as a destination for work and play, he added.
These projects, due to kick off next year, include:

  • R215m multistorey parking lot;
  • R72m expansion of the departure lounge;
  • R21m solar plant; and
  • R27m extension of the existing apron eastwards to make space for an additional new-generation Code C aircraft.

Kernekemp said with the new parkade above the present parking lot would come new access roads. Airport planners had found that the parkade was imperative to accommodate future traffic growth.

“The parkade will have a minimum of 800 bays. About 400 to 500 bays will be replacement bays, due to the new parkade being constructed on an existing parking area.

“The parkade will have a minimum of 800 bays. About 400 to 500 bays will be replacement bays, due to the new parkade being constructed on an existing parking area.

“The location of the parkade will be carefully co-ordinated with the planned new terminal building to ensure efficient connectivity,” Kernekamp said.

A contractor has already been appointed for the R21m solar plant with construction expected to begin later this year.
There is a logic to the new developments. Kernekamp said there was a 3% growth in the number of passengers landing and taking off

“With the increased number of low-cost airlines coming at the East London airport, we have noticed that this has not taken away from the clients of South African Airways but has rather tapped into a different market, where we find that new people who weren’t flying are doing so now, and this has also contributed to the growth of the airport.”

Kernekamp said Airlink had come to the rescue with the introduction of their Cape Town and Durban routes in addition to the routes offered by Kulula and FlySafair, while SAA had increased their Johannesburg flights.

Acsa corporate affairs senior manager Senzeni Ndebele said they commissioned PWD to conduct a study to establish the airport’s overall economic contribution to the GDP, taxes and employment.

Ndebele said the study found East London airport generated R222m in the 2017-18 financial year, that R47m was paid in salaries and that the airport provided permanent jobs to 264 employees.


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