Cape Town International Airport (CTIA) is set to receive an estimated R7.5-billion capital investment over the next five years.
By 2024, CTIA will boast a new, realigned runway, as well as revamped domestic and international terminals, says Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) corporate affairs senior manager Deidre Davids.
She says the upcoming expansion programme is linked directly to facilitating the current and future growth of the Western Cape’s main airport.
“It is important that the airport is able to meet growing passenger and cargo demand.
“The new runway and associated infrastructure will facilitate greater air access into Cape Town and the Western Cape and will enable growth of passenger and cargo traffic that is essential for tourism and economic activity.”
CTIA has seen strong growth over the last three years, with total passengers using the airport increasing from 8.4-million in the 2013/14 financial year to 9.7-million in 2015/16, and to 10.8-million in the 2018/19 financial year – a 29% increase.
International passengers making use of the airport have increased from 1.4-million in 2013/14 to 1.6-million in 2015/16, and to 2.4-million in the 2018/19 financial year – a 71% increase.
The growth in passenger numbers can be attributed to the Air Access initiative, notes Davids.
This initiative is aimed at retaining the current airline base and attracting new airlines.
“Since its inception, we have seen 15 new routes and 19 route expansions to and from CTIA.”
Cape Town is now linked directly to cities and countries such as Singapore, Switzerland, Vienna and Hong Kong.
Towards the end of the year, the city will have a direct flight to New York when United Airlines introduces its Cape Town route.
CTIA has been named Africa’s leading airport for three years running by the World Travel Awards, as well as the best airport in Africa for four years running by Skytrax.
CTIA needs to ensure that it is able to meet growing demand through having the appropriate infrastructure, says Davids.
The airport’s current primary runway is, however, too close to the terminal buildings.
“By realigning and moving it, we’ll be able to make space for the future eastward expansion of the terminals,” she explains.
CTIA will also construct parallel and rapid exit taxiways.
The realigned primary runway will be 3 500 m in length and will be built to international Code F specifications for larger aircraft.
The development will improve access for larger aircraft with a wingspan of 65 m or more, such as the Airbus A-380.
It will also allow the number of aircraft that can land and take off at CTIA to increase from 30 an hour to 45 an hour.
The project to realign the runway will cost in the region of R3.8-billion.
ACSA secured environmental authorisation for the project in February last year.
The project is currently in the tender preparation phase, with construction expected to start early in 2020.
ACSA envisions a 24-month construction and a six-month commissioning period.
New Domestic Arrivals Terminal
The highlight of the expansion of the new domestic arrivals terminal will be an express exit route available to passengers who only have ‘carry on’ luggage and do not need to collect bags, says Davids.
The development will also see the size of the baggage hall increase significantly to accommodate additional baggage collection carousels.
A reconfigured layout will see a new, bigger meet-and-greet area.
The current retail area will also be expanded.
This project will take about 2.5 years to construct and commission.
The cost of the project will be about R688-million, with construction to start early in 2020.
Construction on the project will take about 30 months.
Improved International Terminal
The 71% increase in passengers through the international terminal over the last five years means that this facility will soon reach capacity, notes Davids.
“The project is of vital importance to ensure that we are able to meet growing passenger demand.”
International travellers to and from Cape Town will have to face a three-year construction period as the terminal is redeveloped.
If all goes according to plan, construction on the new international terminal will start towards the end of this year, with the facility to be commissioned in December 2023.
The cost of the project will be an estimated R2.8-billion.
A professional team has been appointed and is currently completing the tender documentation.
The project will see the expansion of the check-in area for international passengers, as well as the addition of two baggage collection carousels.
There will also be a reconfiguration of the security, customs, passport control and arrivals meet-and-greet areas.
Davids expects that CTIA will face some pain over the next five years as the airport expands its footprint.
“The greatest challenge is always operating the airport while it is under construction.
“We anticipate that it will be a bumpy ride, but it’s going to be worth it.
“The intention is to ensure that the airport is more efficient and passengercentric.
“We understand the magnitude of the challenge, but we are fortunate to have a team of people who are passionate about what they do and who will ensure that passengers still receive a good airport experience, irrespective of the construction taking place.”
South Africa’s two other big international airports have also shown healthy growth in recent years.
According to the ACSA website, airports.co.za, international passengers making use of OR Tambo International Airport increased from 8.6-million passengers in the 2013/14 financial year to 9.2-million in 2018/19, which is a 7% increase.
Total passengers moving through the airport expanded by 12%, from 19.1-million to 21.3-million over the same period.
International passengers making use of the King Shaka International Airport grew from a low base of 277 866 in 2013/14 to 367 707 in 2018/19 – a 32% increase.
Total passengers making use of this still relatively new Durban airport grew by 33%, from 4.5-million in 2013/14 to 6-million in 2018/19.
The International Air Transport Association (Iata) said in a 2017 forecast that the number of air passenger journeys to, from and within South Africa will more than double from 23.6-million in 2016 to more than 54-million by 2036.
This will be the result of an average annual growth rate in the country’s local and international air travel of 4.3%, significantly above the expected rate of 3.5% for the aggregated global industry.
Iata director-general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac told journalists at the end of last year that the global airline industry was “approaching an infrastructure crisis”.
He said Iata projected that global air journeys would increase by four-billion trips by 2037 and that current infrastructure planning by governments was not “ambitious” enough to meet that capacity.
He commented that air traffic management was buckling, with delays at various airports worldwide as demand growth outpaced capacity growth.
He pointed to a passenger poll, in which 70% of passengers indicated a sense of overcrowding at airports.