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Terminal B - A new domestic terminal for O.R. Tambo International Airport
Tuesday, February 11, 2003 | 00:00

The terminal, the largest project ever undertaken by ACSA, has been under construction for just over two years.

The concept for the new terminal was formulated by ACSA's strategic equity partner, Aeroporti di Roma, who undertook the planning phase to enable the remaining design to be competed by local professionals.


The new domestic facility has required the complete re-naming of the airport's terminals. As of 11 February 2003, the operational date of the new facility, the international terminal will be known as Terminal A while the new domestic terminal will be Terminal B.

The existing domestic terminal will be entirely shut down on the night of 10 February, following the arrival and departure of the last flights, allowing the new terminal to open on the morning of 11 February.


Terminal B has been developed at a cost of R450 million but is only one aspect of the entire development project. Infrastructural development to accommodate the new terminal includes a new domestic walkway for passengers. This provides additional air bridge capacity so more passengers can connect directly to their aircraft.

ACSA has also upgraded adjacent aprons and the roads infrastructure in the vicinity of Terminal B. Extensions to the existing multi-storey car park have provided an additional 1180 parking bays.

In total, the entire precinct development is valued at R750 million.

Terminal Layout:

The terminal introduces a look and feel unlike any other airport in South Africa. Comprising 80 000 square metres of floor space, the public access three levels of the terminal, namely arrivals, departures and a retail level.

The ground floor is the arrivals level and has a pick-up facility directly outside the terminal for passenger convenience.

The middle floor is the main entrance to the building,as it provides a public walkway connecting the multi-storey parking area, to the terminal. The walkway moves the public into the retail area, comprising shops, food and beverage outlets, as well as seating areas looking directly onto the arrivals hall below.

The top floor is the departures level and has a drop-off facility directly outside the terminal to ensure quick access for departing passengers.

Public Movement in Terminal B:

Although escalators and lifts are used in the new terminal the main circulation point for the public is a suspended and inclined travelator. Suspended by cables some 17 metres high – the travelator is an impressive feature of the building. The public will be familiar with the concept of "moving pavements" however the travelator offers even greater ease of use and access.

The inclined travelator is the only one of its kind in Africa and will offer a simple and smooth movement point for passengers and airport visitors.

Building design:

In line with latest thinking on airport design,Terminal B has been designed in the most user friendly manner, allowing the flow of the building to direct passengers rather than using signage to guide the way.

Carefully designed walkways, directional ramps and sculptured walls create a general sense of direction, while still encouraging a feeling of openness and light.

The high ceilings of the triple volume structure have been designed to allow plenty of natural light into the building.

Arrivals Level:

The baggage carousels offer vast areas of open space for passengers while waiting for their luggage. Specilised trolley holding areas have been placed en route to the baggage conveyor belts for passenger convenience.

Friends and family, waiting to meet arriving passengers, may wait in the large public arrivals hall, or have a cup of coffee on the retail level while watching the passengers from above.

Retail Shopping Level:

Restaurants, pubs, coffee shops and general stores have all been provided for in the new terminal. A convention centre will also be available for bookings as well as a business centre that will provide logistical support for conferences.

An exciting development, that is sure to be a hit with the public, is the construction of a pub and restaurant with sweeping views of airside activity. Now, airport visitors can have a drink and a meal, while watching the movements of aircraft on the aprons.

The public walk directly into the retail level from the parking area and may then connect to the departures an arrivals levels using the inclined travelators.

Departures Level:

The departures level of Terminal B is nothing short of spectacular. Huge columns rise to the ceiling, where skylights allow floods of natural light, to spill onto the area below.

State-of-the-art check-in desks have been installed to allow generous areas for queuing and circulation. In comparison with the existing domestic departures terminal, there is almost double the number of check-in desks, in the new Terminal B.

Following their check-in procedures, passengers will move through a state-of-the-art security screening point, then moving to the departure gates. More stores will be available on this level for pre-flight purchases. The departure lounges offer unobstructed views of the aircraft on the Southern Apron (Charlie Apron).

Black Economic Empowerment:

In tackling a project of this size, ACSA deemed it vital that local expertise and manufacturing be used as far as possible, also using the project as an opportunity to develop expertise amongst previously marginalised business entities.

This is reflected in the constitution of the professional teams where previously disadvantaged practises are playing an important role in all aspects of the project.

Proudly South African:

A constant theme throughout the development of this precinct has been the use of local expertise, local manufacturers, as well as locally developed goods.

The use of indigenous wood panelling in the terminal creates a sense of warmth while the locally obtained granite, with its earthy tones, has a subtle reference to the colours of Africa.

The baggage management systems were largely locally designed and manufactured and the inclined travelator is a first for Africa.

Drop-off and Pick-up Zones:

The upper roadway accommodates departing passengers being dropped off directly outside the terminal. The lower roadway also facilitates quick passenger movement with a pick-up lane outside the terminal.

The drop-off and pick-up zones will, however, be diligently policed by members of the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Traffic Department. Drivers may not park or abandon their vehicles at any time when using the pick-up and drop-off lanes. Drivers may assist with the off-loading of luggage but must then leave the area immediately. Any person failing to comply with these instructions will have their vehicles towed.

It is also important to note that the drop-off and pick-up zones, as with all aspects of the airport, are constantly under security review and are subject to change should it be required.

Access for Disabled:

Terminal B has been developed in close co-operation with various organisations representing the disabled. All walkways and ramps have been designed to easily accommodate wheel chairs and lifts are also available for movement between floors. Drop-off and pick-up zones for the disabled are in place as well as a large number of parking areas for the disabled within the multi-storey parking extension.

Aircraft Viewing Deck:

Members of the public wishing to view activities on the runways and aprons of O.R. Tambo International Airport are being accommodated in spectacular fashion.

A large aircraft viewing deck can be accessed by the public from the departures level. The viewing area offers a 180 degree view of the airside area, allowing plane spotters to watch incoming aircraft from their final approach, to their landing and as they taxi, to their allocated parking bay.


The development of Terminal B will boost ORTIA's capacity in excess of 18 million passengers per annum. The new terminal will also be largest airport terminal in Africa.

Bongani Maseko, General Manager of O.R. Tambo International Airport, said the new terminal has been designed to complement ORTIA's vision of enhancing its status as the primary air transport hub for Sub-Saharan Africa.

"O.R. Tambo International Airport is a major international gateway and the busiest airport in Africa. It is our vision to craft partnerships in airport service excellence, which is what this new domestic terminal is all about, offering the best facilities not only to our aviation partners but to the public as a whole," he said. 

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