Zuma launches Dube Tradeport, urges development of regional air transport hub

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President Jacob Zuma has officially opened the Dube Tradeport near King Shaka International Airport, which he hopes will become a regional hub for flights to neighbouring countries by SA Express.

Zuma yesterday launched the second phase of the Dube Tradeport project and unveiled a statue of the founding President of the ANC, Dr John Langalibalele Dube, after whom the project is named.

Zuma said that King Shaka International Airport is an important part of the Tradeport project and that the time had come to think of the airport as South Africa’s secondary hub and not just a regional feeder airport.

For the financial year that ended in on 31 March 2010, the former Durban International Airport before relocation to La Mercy facilitated 4.4 million passengers, according to the Airports Company of South Africa, (ACSA).

The number of passengers increased to 4.8 million during the 2011 financial year following the move to King Shaka International. Passenger traffic is growing at a healthy 3.8%, which compares favourably with the national average passenger traffic growth of 2.8% for the current financial year, Zuma noted. It is anticipated that the airport’s passenger traffic for the 2012 financial year will surpass the five million mark.
“We would like to see an increase in these numbers. Therefore, King Shaka International should aggressively market itself as a key entry point for international routes,” Zuma said.
“I am happy to announce that SA Express has identified Durban as a base in which to grow its footprint into the SADC [Southern Africa Development Community] region. SA Express has concluded an agreement with the Dube TradePort Corporation, which will see a connection of King Shaka airport to the region, especially to Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana and Mozambique.
“Upon success of these operations, SA Express will expand further into countries such as Namibia, Malawi, Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“SAA will also increase frequency to the region and the Mango airline will also serve the SADC route from Lanseria Airport in Johannesburg,” Zuma said.

King Shaka was dealt a blow when Air Mauritius announced it would halt flights to Durban from October this year.

Zuma noted that construction did not stop with the completion of King Shaka International Airport and that other completed projects include the Cargo Terminal, the Trade House, the Trade Zone, Dube City infrastructure, the Agrizone , and the IT and Telecommunications platform.
“The Dube Trade Port Corporation, a state owned enterprise, has been assigned to deliver a unique airport city north of Durban, stretching from Umhlanga to Ballito,” Zuma said. “In doing so, we will be able to boost economic development and job creation… Already, the construction phase has generated close to 20 000 jobs in each of the past two years,” he noted.
“This project is intended to connect the major economic centres of Gauteng and Durban/Pinetown, and at the same time, link these centres with an improved export capacity through our sea-ports and improved railway lines.”

KwaZulu Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize said the long-term strategic objective of the project was the establishment of an “aerotropolis” north of Durban, stretching from Umhlanga to Ballito.

It is envisaged that hotels, office blocks, and retail, entertainment and other commercial developments will spring up around the airport.

Dube Tradeport’s property executive, Hamish Erskine, said yesterday that a R350 million deal, the first major private sector investment in the trade port’s cargo zone, had been signed.
“Durban-based Shree Property Group will be building a 100 000m² warehouse and logistics facility catering for the airfreight industry… We believe it will spur investment into Dube Tradeport,” he said.