Independent Airports and Aerodromes pose potential 2010TM risk

Posted On Monday, 08 October 2007 02:00 Published by eProp Commercial Property News
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Many of South Africa’s independent airports and aerodromes remain technically non-compliant and continue to lose out on increasing opportunities presented through either tourism or large events like the upcoming 2010 FIFA World CupTM

Infrastructure IndustryThis is according to Bernard Buys, Aviation Advisor.  He says that while there is certainly activity on the upgrade front, the spread of non-compliance remains a critical issue, both in terms of those key located independent airports and aerodromes within close proximity to the stadiums as well as on ongoing non-compliance.

“Unlicensed aerodromes and independent airports need to achieve a certain acceptable level of compliance, in order for tourists to safely make use of these facilities.  Critically in this regard, areas such as; safety and security, rescue and fire fighting, road infrastructure, risk analysis, runway lighting facilities and ancillary equipment are of paramount importance to the authorities when considering an independent airport or aerodrome for public use” says Buys.

“During 2006 FIFA World CupTM in Germany, the aviation authorities had great cause for concern when they underestimated demand and had to cater for 7 000 additional flight movements over the event.  To move within the European Union is relatively easy and spectators could travel to see their teams play over a two day period.  South Africa, on the other hand, with its geographical location at the bottom of the continent is totally different.  Spectators will become tourists with an increasing number of them visiting Game Reserves and lodges during the knockout phase games building up to the playoffs.  This necessitates an urgent review of all independent airports and aerodromes,” according to Buys.

Game reserves and lodges are mostly serviced by air charter operators, utilising available strips in and around Game Reserves and lodges.  International tourists using these strips will be alarmed to know that many are unlicensed and uncontrolled by the South African Civil Aviation Authority.

While there are many airports across the country lagging behind in terms of compliance, certain independent airports and aerodromes have embraced the upcoming opportunity.

In 2006 Mafikeng announced their intention to apply for international status. In his speech at the launch of the upgrade on International Civil Aviation Day”, MEC Jerry Thibedi noted, “I am encouraged by the fact that Mafikeng Airport, just like Upington in North Cape and Bisho in Eastern Cape, has been mentioned as a possible entry point for international flights during the 2010 FIFA World CupTM”.

The aerodrome at Sabi Sabi is a good example of one that has gone through the entire process of compliance and environmental impact assessment.  As a result, Sabi Sabi now offers medical facilities and the all important Aerodrome Rescue and Fire Fighting Services to any aircrafts using the facility. 

“The South African transport authorities will have no choice but to impose certain airspace restrictions throughout South Africa during the 2010 World Cup, similar to the restrictions over areas during the World Summit on Sustainable Development,” says Buys.  “South Africa should learn from German past experience and adopt a slot time coordinated airspace environment, being proactive in securing the airspace surrounding the various stadiums.  South Africa should also look into imposing a fine or some form of sanction for aircrafts violating airspace restrictions or flying into controlled airspace without adhering to the slot time allocation,” adds Buys.

Certain municipality owned airports are planning upgrades of their independent airports/airfields.  This will enable them to carry increased traffic on a daily basis and to create alternative passenger airport facilities in the event of any unforeseen diversions like adverse weather conditions, air traffic congestion or security issues.

Both compliance issues and revenue opportunities for Airports and Aerodromes will be on the platform at the Standard Bank SA Air Transport Conference, to be held at the Sandton Convention Centre on 1 & 2 November 2007. www.airtransportconference.co.za

 

Last modified on Saturday, 02 November 2013 10:44

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