Transport minister Sibusiso Ndebele says in general he is satisfied with the level of preparedness of the aviation sector to help deliver a successful Soccer World Cup later this year.
He last month told Parliament the aviation sector is currently finalising their planning for 2010 through the Aviation Sector Task Team (ASSTT), an umbrella structure which has been brought together under one body, covering airlines, airports, air traffic management, ground-handlers and other support functions.
“Our plans will be refined, finalised and ready for testing and implementation by the end of the first quarter of 2010,” he said in answer to a question by Democratic Alliance MP Greg Krumbock.
The minister noted the sector produced its first preliminary draft plans in October 2008. These plans were then revised and updated and submitted to FIFA in September 2009.
“However, at the time there were still many unknown variables. These included the actual teams which would qualify, the team camps, how the teams would be drawn for the tournament and accommodation nodes where spectators would reside.”
The airline schedules are now being revised in light of the final FIFA draw on December 4.
Ndebele says that in order to address potential bottlenecks, the aviation sector will operate “on a 24 hour basis during the World Cup. New routes will also be established to ensure the smooth and efficient transportation of spectators between host cities. In addition, some airlines have planned to use bigger wide-body aircraft on the domestic market to alleviate a potential shortage of seats.
“International services will be enhanced through additional bilateral frequencies and supplementary flights. However, the bulk of spectators are anticipated to arrive by way of charter fights. In this regard, we are in constant contact with FIFA and MATCH [the ticket organisation] to ensure adequate flight services to and from South Africa.
“The domestic aviation sector has limitations in both infrastructure and services and any demand over and above available capacity will be shifted to land-based modes of transport such as busses, trains and taxis,” Ndebele said.