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Durban International Airport November 2009
Monday, November 30, 2009 | 00:00

The R7b project of the new international airport at La Mercy is well on track more that 86% of the project already completed with the air traffic control tower beneficially handed over to Air Traffic and Navigation Services. The airfield lighting has also been commissioned recently which basically tested the runway lights. The air bridges are in the commission stage and tests are being conducted.

The contractor, Ilembe Consortium is well on track to deliver, as part of the contract, 25% completion of the passenger terminal to Airports Company South Africa by the end of 2009. This completed area of the airport terminal is critical so that the familiarisation and trial terminal operations can be conducted.

Development Overview

  • Runway length 3,700 m to accommodate largest design aircraft 
  • 7,5 million passengers per annum
  • Ultimate capacity 45 million passengers 2060
  • 30 Code C aircraft parking bays ( 12 Air Bridges)
  • 4 Code F Aircraft parking bays
  • 6500 Vehicle parking bays
  • Air Traffic control facilities
  • Aviation fuel farm
  • Waste water treatment plant
  • Cargo Facility
  • Road Network and Interchange
  • Airport Maintenance support buildings and facilities
  • Terminal area 103 000 square meters
  • Support Zone,Trade Zone and Agri Zone

Size of the Development

Material Quantity Equivalent To
Runway and Taxiways  400,000 m2 100 Soccer Pitches
Terminal Floor Area 103,000 m2  27 Soccer Pitches
Earthworks  5.8 Million m3 2,500 Olympic Swimming Pools
Concrete 100,000 m3 50 Olympic Swimming Pools
Structural Steel 4,700 tonnes ½ the Eiffel Tower
 Asphalt 230,000 tonnes   35 km of a 4 Lane Highway 

Comparisons of Durban to New Airport

Areas Durban La Mercy
Runway 2.4kms 3.7kms
Terminal Area  30 000 m2 103 000 m2
Air Bridges None 12
Public Parking  2490 6500
Retail Space  2900m2 6500m2
Aircraft Parking Bays 24 34
Areas Durban La Mercy
Lifts 11  25
Escalators none 12
Passenger numbers   4.4 mpa  7.5 mpa
Check in counters 52 75
Retail outlets 14 50
Car rentals 8 10

Future of Durban International Airport

Once the new airport is fully operational by May 2010, the current airport will be decommissioned as an airport and all aviation business will be relocated and conducted at the new airport.

The current airport, once decommissioned as an airport, will become a prime piece of property which being planned to be disposed off. The disposal of the property will be conducted by task team that consists of ACSA, Department of Trade and Industry, National/Provincial Government and eThekweni Municipality.

FIFA 2010 Soccer World Cup event is being planned to be managed from the new airport and the old airport could be used in case of an emergency and possibly to park aircraft should it be required and only during the event.

Name of the new airport

This issue is now on the critical path as the name of the airport has to be issued so that Civil Aviation regulations can be met in terms of the airport international code, placement of the code and name into aviation manuals and also the road and directional signage that needs to be completed by the end of 2009.

The matter is being prioritised at national government level and  through this process there have been public sessions held and as ACSA we look forward for that matter to follow due process and the name officially issued. 

Operational Relocation and Airport Transfer (ORAT)

The ORAT program is well on track and a team of about 30 work stream leaders are working on the program to make it a reality. The ORAT team is ensuring that every aspect of the airport operation and relocation is given priority and a time sensitive plan is in place for each of the activities. There will also be, in the 1st quarter of 2010, a robust public awareness campaign on the airport relocation so that the public and airport users know exactly how the relocation will occur and how it will impact on them.

The daunting but exciting task of relocating the airport “overnight” to the new site is exactly what is planned. Behind the scenes is a team headed by Bongiwe Pityi (AGM Airport Operations) for ACSA who has a team of local and international consultants working on the ORAT.

The plan is that on 30th April the last aircraft will land at DIA and after the passengers have left the airport those aircraft will have to be relocated to the new airport. The equipment and resources will also be relocated for most of that week but certainly overnight of the 30th April. The next day, considering it being a Saturday and a relatively quieter from an operational perspective, the new airport will commence operations.

As part of the ORAT program the Familiarisation Training program has commenced on 16th November 2009 and will continue until 22nd April 2010. The familiarisation program will involve taking all airport staff on a daily basis on site for training and also a site visit. There will also will be specialised training provided by the various companies for the equipment such as air bridges, escalators, automated baggage system, etc.

The Familiarisation program has already seen more than 400 staff and stakeholders being exposed to the new airport and we have about another 3000 to go. Obviously due to the construction shut down during the festive season, the site will be closed from 18th December 2009 and reopen in the 1st week of January 2010. During this time the contractor will ensure that the site is secure and deploy the relevant staff on site in case on any emergency. We  will stop the program and continue in earnest early in January 2010.

It has been reported that the nature of this project has become a catalyst of major economic growth for the province of KZN and the country and that it has and should create about 150 000 to 200 000 jobs directly and indirectly. Airports Company South Africa and all airport stakeholders at the current airport is busy with interventions for the staff relocation process from the old airport to the new.

Employment and business opportunities for the operation of the new airport will be publicised by the necessary airport service providers and companies according to their resource and business needs in the public domain in the next few months.

As part of the positive record of decision issued by DEAT for the project in 2007, there are various environmental conditions attached to that decision. Airports Company South Africa is working closely with the relevant government agencies and specialists to ensure all conditions are complied with during and after the construction of the project.



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