It is now less than 365 days or only 12 months left before the new airport at La Mercy finally opens its doors for business. Can you imagine that on a crucial night on 30th April 2010, the current Durban Airport will process its last flight and the next morning that same plane will have to fly to the new airport? It is clearly an ambitious plan but one that will be challenging but promises to be exciting.
That ambitious plan is being carefully laid out by Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) as it plans the relocation and transfer from the current site to the new airport site. The term used for this plan is called the Operational Readiness and Transfer Program (ORAT as it is called in the aviation business) is being finalised by the ACSA work stream leaders and professional consulting teams consisting of local and overseas teams. This team headed by Ms Bongiwe Pityi (Assistant General Manager: Airport Operations) of ACSA, will spearhead the ORAT team and will be supported by two highly experienced consulting teams from AURECON (South African) and the Munich Team (German).
Pityi explained, “To ensure that ORAT is successful we will need all the help and assistance from the various stakeholder groups; internally, externally, government, airport staff and airport clients, Dube Tradeport (DTP) and certainly the Ilembe Consortium who are busy with the construction the airport. We have come a long way in making sure our teams are part of the process and as a critical element of the ORAT is for us to continue to engage with our teams in implementing the plan and to successfully open the airport”.
“ It will not be an easy task and will have its own dynamics and challenges,” Pityi continued, “but we have basically divided the plan into work streams with work stream leaders to synergise all activities and the various operational elements that will prepare us for the opening the airport”.
Terence Delomoney, GM: Durban and National Airports showed his appreciation, “As ACSA we have ensured that the construction and ORAT operational elements are given the importance and at the same time, separated strategically but streamlined to ensure that all elements are brought together in a synchronised manner to ensure the operational opening is successful”.
Part of the ORAT plan is to engage the public and stakeholders on the progress of the construction and to also make them aware of the changes that will be taking place which will ultimately affect the public and stakeholders. The construction of the N2 interchange, which should be completed by March 2010, is but one of the operational elements that ORAT and the construction teams will need to synchronise and co-ordinate to avoid major confusion and disruption.
While ORAT is soon to take precedence and is making rapid progress so is the construction of the airport. The 65m control tower is soon to be handed to Air Traffic and Navigation Services (ATNS) so that they are able to commence with their technological integration. Due to the extra rain days experienced on the project the contractor managed to implement a recovery program which has proved to be working as most of the items on the critical path is still on track.
The terminal building and airside corridor areas including the arrivals, departure, airline offices are being finalised in terms of design sign off and preparing for final fit outs. The final roof trusses on the terminal building has been completed and the structural steel and roof sheeting is well in progress. The airside corridor final documentation is 95% complete with most design changes and revisions have been completed. The final co-ordination related to the conveyor system and the cold room area at the cargo building is currently being completed. With the retail tenders already closed in mid April and while the tenders are being adjudicated the drawings for the retail shops have been completed within a record period of 3 weeks.
As this multi billion rand project takes its final 12 month turn, ACSA plans to keep the public informed every step of the way. It will with the public’s help, co-operation, support and involvement that this exciting and historical project will soon be a reality and part of our colourful history.