FROM MAGAZINE: OR Tambo International Airport looks at expansion

FROM MAGAZINE: OR Tambo International Airport looks at expansion

OR Tambo International Airport, one of the major international gateways in Johannesburg, South Africa, plans short and long term developments for the cargo division at the airport, keeping in mind the requirements of cargo and logistics stakeholders. It has also planned to transform the airport precinct into an airport city.

Twinkle Sahita

As demand for passenger and cargo flights increases between now and 2030, studies by Airbus have shown that there will be the establishment of Aviation Mega-Cities across the globe. In this study, OR Tambo International Airport, one of the major international gateways in Johannesburg, has been identified as the only Aviation Mega-City on the African continent.

With this in mind, Airports Company South Africa is prepared to secure its role as the preferred provider of facilities at the gateway to the continent and as the main distribution centre for Sub-Equatorial Africa.

Out of the three main international gateways: OR Tambo in Johannesburg, Cape Town International Airport and King Shaka International Airport in Durban, OR Tambo is undergoing major developments in the recent years to enhance the existing facilities.

“There are several short, medium and long-term developments for the Cargo division at OR Tambo International Airport. Firstly, we have recognised the need for specialised offerings for the cargo and logistics industry, and have worked with our cargo experts to develop appropriate responses to the relevant needs of the industry. We have had carriers add passenger frequencies from Europe and further requests for coming seasons, which would ultimately make additional belly-cargo capacity available. We are also constantly working with our stakeholders to enhance our facilities and operations to ensure the best possible service. Medium and long term plans include working with local private entities and regional governmental stakeholders on developing designs and implementation plans for new advanced cargo handling facilities at the airport. These new facilities will secure our role as the hub for air cargo within the sub-equatorial region and adequately cater for demand for the next 15 -20 years as a minimum,” informs Airports Company South Africa (ACSA), South African airport management company, through a statement.

Plans are also underway to transform the OR Tambo International Airport precinct into an airport city. The launch of the Ekurhuleni Aerotropolis was held in November 2015, and was received positively by the communities in the local municipality, the regional government as well as by private businesses locally and internationally.

“We are currently working with teams from the local municipality to determine the nature and extent of developments that will be required to ensure the most effective spatial development plans are implemented. These plans are based on stimulating local and international business opportunities which will encourage demand for dedicated freighter operations taking into account the types of business ‘nodes’ that are required and their best locations within the area. Our involvement is focused on the requirements of our cargo and logistics stakeholders and supporting infrastructure on our site,” adds ACSA.

A variety of commodities are handled at the airport. “Our commodities through the airport vary significantly. As the main hub, not only for South Africa, but also for the region, we see all types of commodities being processed through our facilities. Some examples include perishable food items, from seafood to vegetables and flowers, other examples being the handling and transportation of wildlife. We also play a major role in the handling and movement of pharmaceuticals, vehicle components, other manufactured parts and a sizeable quantity of electronic equipment. We are also the distribution centre into our neighbouring Southern African countries,” says ACSA through a statement.

The African air cargo industry is also undergoing some interesting changes. Drones are flying in the African skies to help the continent overcome the challenge of transport infrastructure. With countries such as Rwanda, Kenya, Malawi, Papa New Guinea and Dominican Republic embracing drone technology, South Africa will soon witness drones flying in its skies.

“Our industry will certainly have some interesting changes in the future. Whilst drones are certainly an option for some items on the market, we do not foresee the entire delivery model changing to be purely reliant on drones. There are significant benefits to the drone model, but also several necessary alterations to current circumstances, from an airspace management and a security perspective. We envisage that if drones are to be used more frequently by courier companies, it is also likely that these facilities will not be run directly on-airport, due to the stringent nature in which the safety of the airspace around the airports is managed,” opinionates ACSA.

ACSA finds that the transport and logistics industry plays a major role to influence the economic growth of the country. Among the emerging economies in the African continent, the largest economy with constant developments in the transport and logistics infrastructure is South Africa. Transport and logistics has been a key contributor to South Africa’s competitiveness in global markets.

South Africa has so many attractive factors for foreign businesses to take advantage of, such as a clear legislative framework, established judicial system and robust economic management instruments.

“Our industry has a major role to play in the economic development of the entire country, and we firmly believe that through positive collaboration with government and with business, we can facilitate growth for our country, as well as for the region. We have unique offerings and commodities throughout South Africa, which need to be moved intra-regionally and are being sought after across the world,” concludes ACSA.

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