The upgrade of the Bloemfontein Airport is in full swing. This much needed upgrade is to ensure that adequate capacity is created incorporating the 2010 Soccer World Cup and beyond. With the terminal upgrade scheduled to be completed in the last quarter on 2008, there is also plans for the rehabilitation of the current runway and taxiways.
In October 2006, Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) appointed Ndondana Consulting Engineers (Pty) Ltd (NCE) to undertake a detailed rehabilitation design for the runways, taxiways and aprons as part of the rehabilitation upgrade of airside pavements and related infrastructure. During the period of October/November 2006 a detailed visual assessment survey was conducted of the areas.
After the results of the survey were issued ACSA decided that those areas will be rehabilitated and which will provide for a structural design life of 8 to 10 years. As with all refurbishment and construction work at the airport, safety is a key requirement and that the airport facility should remain operational during that work.
It became clear that the degree and extent of the rehabilitation activities are proving to be more complex than usual. This includes the fact that the work has to be done under restricted hours and at night, after the normal operational hours of the airport. To ensure all areas of operational risk and safety are taken into account, the timing program has been set in consultation with ACSA, airline partners and the contractor and also taking into account the weather conditions.
It was for these reasons that it has been decided that the airport will need to shut down temporarily over a period of two weekends, 19th April and 26th April 2008. This will mean that the shut down will commence from Saturday after the last flight has departed and will reopen on Monday at 06:00, local time for those 2 weekends. This period will allow the rehabilitation and the refurbishment of the runway intersections to be completed.
The rehabilitation project is estimated to cost about R121m. A further project which is in the process of being initiated will include an additional aircraft parking stand that will be built at a cost of R7m.
At this stage we would like to appeal to the public that the airport is doing its best to minimise the inconvenience during the construction of the terminal and that their patience and understanding so far into the project has been excellent. We once again humbly apologize for this temporary inconvenience on the airport closure during those 2 weekends and we will be keeping you updated on the progress of the project.