Scheduled flights from Skukuza Airport are improving travelling time to the Kruger National Park in Mpumalanga, one of the country’s most treasured gems in tourism.
South African National Parks (SANParks), in partnership with the Skukuza Airport Management Company and Airlink, officially launched the scheduled flights at Skukuza Airport on Monday.
Speaking at the launch, Managing Executive of Tourism and Marketing at SANParks, Glenn Philips, said the scheduled flights significantly cut the travelling time from Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (KMI) in Nelspruit.
“Before tourists would land in Nelspruit and drive here, which is about two hours from the Kruger National Park and most of the foreign tourists would complain.
“With this scheduling, people can fly directly here and it will also cut on travelling long distances.”
The construction of the airport started in January 2014 and was open for operation at the beginning of June. The airport currently employs 30 permanent staffers, with the majority of the people coming from surrounding areas. The construction of the runway created 87 jobs.
The construction of the entire airport took six months to complete.
“We started in January but we then had those floods and heavy rains, and that caused bit of delay. We were open for operation by the 2nd of June,” said Philips.
The airport operates two daily flights from OR Tambo and Cape Town International Airport, with scheduled flights carrying between 37 and 85 passengers a day. The airport has one runway that is 1 550 meters long and 30 meters wide.
Philips said the opening of scheduled flights will also increase the number of tourists and help address the problem of unemployment.
“Because most of our airports are in remote areas, it gives us a perfect opportunity to get into those communities and create employment… We are about to build a new lodge in Skukuza with 200 beds,” he said.