Not only will thousands of local and foreign marathon runners, accompanied by their supporters, head for KwaZulu-Natal for the annual Comrades' Marathon on Youth Day (Friday 16 June), but at least as many more people are likely to take advantage of the resulting long weekend getaway opportunity.
Just one week later, government schools across the country and tertiary institutions close for the mid-year holiday, which is likely to spawn a flurry of domestic and outbound international travel through Durban International, O.R. Tambo International and Cape Town International airports in particular.
With the month of June already underway, Durban is currently busy with the US PEPFAR meeting that has about 1000 delegates arriving through Durban International Airport and it is also gearing itself up for the Africa Peace Awards on 24 June. Then there's a superb line-up of rugby fixtures such as South Africa taking on Scotland on 17 June; as well as facing-off against France on 24 June when the Sharks and the Lions will also go head-to-head. Other calendar events during this month include the world-famous Knysna Oyster Festival which kicks off on 30 June.
The month of July promises to be exciting for many South Africans, especially with the country's glamorous Durban July Handicap event on July 1 and the annual July Beach Festival, the Nokia Fashion Week on 12 July and for local soccer fans with the Vodacom Challenge, between Manchester United, Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs, on 16 and 18 July. These events will be followed by travel activity due to the resumption of the second semester for schools and tertiary institutions.
"Based on previous experience, we expect about 4.5 million passengers to travel through our network of ten airports over the next two months," says Bongani Maseko, Director of Airport Operations at ACSA: "Our primary objective is to make every passenger's trip as safe, enjoyable and memorable as possible," says Maseko. "We do, however, require passengers' co-operation if we are to realise this ambition."
Maseko urges passengers to plan their trips properly and allow sufficient time for travelling to the airport, finding parking and checking-in - all of which may add unnecessary stress and tension to all involved. "This situation can be avoided so easily by planning every aspect of the journey, which includes starting-out from home with time to spare and paying heed to the safety regulations of the various carriers".
Maseko continues, "For instance, passengers must remember that they will not be allowed beyond the security checkpoints if they are carrying prohibited items, such as knives, needles, scissors and other sharp objects.
"They may also be subjected to a body search, or be required to unpack their hand luggage if items are detected during the screening process.
If you're in doubt about carrying an item, check the detailed list on our website - www.acsa.co.za - or leave it at home!"
Herewith ACSA's tips for travellers:
- Plan your trip systematically, including packing in advance- don't leaving things to the last minute!
- Add at least 30 minutes to your normal airport travel time:
- If you are travelling internationally, aim to get to the airport
- at least 2.5 hours before your departure time.
- If you are travelling domestically, get there at least 1.5 hours before your flight particularly at O.R. Tambo International where there are road works on the R24
- route to the airport on weekends and in Durban where a multi-storey parkade with 2500 parking
- bays is being built and due for completion end May 2007
- Due to the construction work, parking is at a premium. So, as you approach the airport complex, be on the look out for and follow signs that will direct you to the available parking areas.
- Use the drop-off zones (where available) for that purpose only:
- they are not for parking in!
- Be sure to pack your own baggage, secure it properly (loose straps may catch in the conveyor belts), lock it, if possible shrink wrap it and attach identification tags. Do not place small, valuable items into checked baggage (such as cellphones, laptop computers or jewellery), and do not leave your luggage unattended - whether check-in or carry-on.
"By following ACSA's advice, namely - "make time, take time and enjoy your travel" - air travellers can truly begin to enjoy their journey from the moment they reach the airport. After all, an airport is an exciting destination in itself and, with the wide choice of coffee shops and retail outlets to browse in ahead of boarding," concludes Maseko.