It was much fanfare at Africa’s biggest and busiest airport when President Jacob Zuma officially opened the new Central Terminal Building (CTB) at O.R. Tambo International Airport on 20 April 2010.
His presence alone created a lot of excitement amongst passengers and staff as he took time to meet and great both local and international visitors before the historical event.
The honourable President was flanked by the Transport Minister Mr Sibusiso Ndebele, Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane, Ekurhuleni Mayor Ntombi Mekgwe, Acsa Board Chairperson Sindy Zilwa, Acsa MD Monhla Hlahla and General Manager Christopher Hlekane.
Also gracing the event were Home Affairs Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, 2010 World Cup Local Organising Committee CEO Danny Jordaan as well as CEO’s from various airlines, business people, government officials, Acsa and airline staff alike.
The opening comes as the country prepares to welcome tens of thousands of people from across the globe to the kick off of the biggest sporting event in the world.
President Zuma unveiled a large plaque at the international arrivals hall of the terminal building, signalling the completion of a host of upgrades at the gateway. Keeping up with the ceremonial spirit, our guests and visitors were welcomed by the sweet sounds of the Wits Choir as they sang the national anthem.
The official launch of the CTB comes after the construction of the international gateway under the management of Airports Company South Africa (ACSA), to the tune of R2.2 billion. Other completed facilities at O.R. Tambo International Airport include the International Pier, International Departures terminal upgrade, enlarged and remodelled food court facilities as well as our premium parking (Multi-Storey Parkade) with extra 5200 parking bays. There is now a total of 17 500 car parking bays on-and-off the airport precinct. In addition, there are seven new aircraft parking stands, bringing the total to 105; the Gautrain Rapid Rail link and added storage fuel tanks with a capacity of 60 million litres.
The revamped O.R. Tambo International Airport will continue in its stance as a world class African airport capable of managing a passenger capacity of 28 million.
The total investment of well over R5 billion on all projects since 2006, has realised our vision of a truly international airport which will not only contribute significantly to our country’s economy but will leave a lasting legacy for our country.
In his address, President Zuma said it was not a coincidence that Africa’s biggest and busiest airport has been named after Oliver Tambo, leader of the African National Congress until 1993.
“Oliver Tambo was a true international statesman with the highest regard for the values of human dignity and compassion”.
While all airports across the country are expected to operate 24 hours a day, Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele emphasised that only domestic airlines will be allowed to operate locally.
In her address, Airport Company South Africa Board Chairperson, Sindy Zilwa thanked all those who have made O.R. Tambo International Airport the gateway it is today.
“Allow me to thank the shareholders, Board of Directors and Executive Committee of Airports Company South Africa – both past and present – for their vision, leadership and unwavering support as we embarked on this remarkable journey in 1995, right up to this historic day. Since 2006 our shareholders have been contributing to the pre-funding of this facility and other developments in our network of airports by having agreed to defer dividend payments: for this we remain extremely grateful.
“Translating vision into reality by putting pen to paper and designing plans that will result in world-class infrastructure, technologies and services that enable memorable passenger experiences: that is the ultimate test, and that test has been passed with flying colours. I therefore thank the professional teams, contractors, service providers and partners who proudly took ownership of this metamorphosis,” said Ms Zilwa.
Ms Zilwa also singled out Airports Company South Africa’s MD Monhla Hlahla for her “exemplary stewardship of Airports Company South Africa, for having ensured the team stayed the course and delivered on our mandate, always with vision, drive and care.”
The day was poignant as it featured those who had contributed greatly to the vision behind O.R. Tambo International Airport.
It was perhaps the delightful impromptu statement by President Zuma that caught everyone off guard. The President who swiftly bypassed the Master of Ceremonies, Acsa’s Group Executive: Communications and Brand Management; Ms Nicky Knapp.
The President captivated the audience as he applauded the country as a whole for its stance on women empowerment.
“The Master of ceremonies is a woman, the CEO of ACSA is a woman, the Chairperson of ACSA is a woman, the Mayor of Ekurhuleni is a woman, the Minister of Home Affairs is a woman and the Premier of Gauteng is a woman,” acknowledged the President.
It is clear from all those who attended the event and so rightfully put by our MD Monhla Hlala: “WE ARE READY FOR 2010!”