In the wake of King Shaka international airport’s strong passenger growth and increasing international airline connectivity‚ the Airports Company of South Africa (Acsa) is investing more than R420m into airside and other upgrades at the Durban airport.
Major earthworks on a taxiway extension and construction of two new remote aircraft stands at the airport have been underway for about a month‚ but Acsa has revealed little detail on the project. King Shaka International general manager Terence Delomoney confirmed to us on Wednesday that Acsa was investing “in excess of R420m into necessary upgrades at the airport”.
Acsa’s upgrades come as King Shaka International secured its first direct route to Europe on Tuesday‚ with the first direct British Airways scheduled flights from London Heathrow to Durban.
The parastatal anticipates further international passenger growth at King Shaka on the back of the new British Airways route and demand from other international airlines.
Emirates‚ which operates a daily Dubai-Durban service‚ will put on six additional flights over the upcoming festive season. Air Mauritius added a fourth weekly flight to King Shaka in April‚ while Air Namibia’s route to Windhoek is reportedly performing very well.
“This expansion is to cater for growth at King Shaka and due to the fact that it is a primary diversion airport for Joburg’s OR Tambo international airport‚” said Delomoney.
“King Shaka has had a compound annual growth of 8% in passengers over our last three financial years. Capacity on the international side is coming under pressure‚ so we need additional stands to deal with both increased international traffic and any diverted flights from Joburg‚” he explained.
“Acsa is spending some R300m on the extension of the Bravo taxiway at King Shaka as well as the construction of two new Code F remote aircraft stands. The stands will be fully compliant with the highest specifications‚ which means they can handle the largest and heaviest passenger planes‚ including the A380 and Boeing 747-800.
“Another R120m is being used for other upgrades at the airport‚ such as new retail kiosks in the terminal building and upgrades to the international side. The overall new investment into King Shaka is essential for growth‚ particularly in terms of international traffic. When King Shaka opened in 2010‚ it had quite a small international section. With the growth of international traffic flying directly in and out of Durban‚ these upgrades have become necessary‚” added Delomoney.
“While these are essential upgrades‚ this is not the next major phase of development of King Shaka. Acsa is engaging with the airline industry currently‚ as we are also looking at an expansion of the terminal itself. This will represent the official second phase of development of King Shaka‚ but we are only in the planning and scoping stage‚” he said.
King Shaka handled more than 5.6m passengers in Acsa’s last financial year‚ which ended in March. With British Airways’ entry and increased capacity on other routes‚ Delomoney anticipates the airport even hitting the six million mark next year.
Hamish Erskine‚ CEO of Dube TradePort‚ said he strongly supports the upgrades‚ as the investment responded to the growth of the airport and KZN’s aviation market. “Durban’s direct inbound and outbound international passenger traffic has gone from virtually nothing in 2008 to 363‚000 passengers last year at King Shaka. And international traffic will grow further.”