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Lanseria airport to expand over the next five years as passenger numbers swell

altOver the next five years Lanseria International Airport will undertake a massive expansion project that will add a runway extension, new terminal and hotel. In addition, 1Time plans to end Kulula’s monopoly at Lanseria by flying out of the airport in the next few months.

Over a million people passed through Lanseria, just north of Johannesburg, last year. This is up from 150 000 in 2005 and could touch, or exceed, two-million passengers by the end of this year, says Gavin Sayce, manager of Lanseria. This would put it on a par with Port Elizabeth. The latter is the fourth largest airport owned by the Airports Company South Africa, and has a capacity of two-million passengers a year.

One of the main reasons for the growth is the 2005 agreement with Kulula.com that excluded all six of South Africa’s other main airlines, IOL reports. Kulula.com is a low cost division of Comair, which also manages British Airways flights in South Africa.

The low-cost carrier initiated a once a day flight from Lanseria to Cape Town. This has grown to 77 flights a week into the airport, and 77 flights departing the airport, flying to Durban and Cape Town. There are plans afoot to increase this to more than 100 flights a week both ways.

Lanseria is looking to expand even further as talks continue with budget airline 1Time. The airline could start services from the airport in the second quarter of this year.

“We are also talking to some other airlines [in sub-Saharan Africa] which are interested in operating from here,” Sayce says. “In the end, we would like to extend our role as the regional airport of choice, serving Africa and beyond.” However, he could not say which airlines Lanseria was in discussion with.

As a result of these ambitions, Lanseria is planning to add infrastructure in an expansive upgrade. Most importantly, Lanseria has a runway extension in the pipeline so it can handle larger aircraft like the Boeing 767 and Airbus A300. The runway upgrade will not affect flight operations, Sayce says.

“We are also looking to increase the number of facilities available to passengers. Our long term plan is to build a new terminal building and a large multi-storey car park,” Sayce says. “We are also planning for a hotel to cater for travel and conferencing requirements.” The new terminal would be for domestic low-cost airlines while the old terminal would become the international terminal.

Sayce also says there would be investment in new navigational equipment, better lighting and improved security. “We will be implementing the most advanced technology and systems on the market to ensure high levels of customer service and most importantly safety,” he says.

“In our five year plan, the construction work and development is based on the fact that we believe there will be an increase in domestic travel and a growth in regional, scheduled traffic,” Sayce says. However, he could not say when construction would start, or how much the upgrades would cost. “That’s the million dollar question,” he said.

Sayce noted that the World Cup had boosted Lanseria’s profile with around 6 000 World Cup-related aircraft movements recorded. “On the final day of the event over 250 executive business jets and larger aircraft sat wing over wing for over two kilometres; it was a wonderful sight,” Sayce says.

Lanseria was established in 1974 by two Pretoria pilots, Fanie Haacke and Abe Sher, and originally belonged to the Roodepoort and Krugersdorp municipalities. It was privatised in 1991 and is currently owned by a private consortium. Since then it has become one of the busiest civil airports in South Africa. Its growth has been helped by its low rates, which are cheaper than airports operated by the Airports Company of South Africa. Lanseria International Airport itself employs just under 200 people, but around 7 000 people work at the airport in total.

Lanseria is close to residential areas, has flat land suited to smooth approaches and is smog free. “We are ideally located between the flying population areas of Johannesburg and the rest of the Gauteng province,” Sayce says. He added that Johannesburg was growing northwards towards Lanseria, which is well situated and is becoming more accessible due to the much improved road infrastructure, he says. Indeed, the road to the airport, the R512, off the N14, is in the process of being upgraded, and is scheduled to be completed in March at a cost of R375 million. However, Sayce cautioned that the recent heavy rains might delay completion slightly. The project adds 5.7 km of new dual carriageway from the N14 to Lanseria. This is something Lanseria management has lobbied for strongly.

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