Airlines shun Swaziland's new airport

2013-12-11 10:05

(Shutterstock)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Mbabane - Swaziland’s new R3bn international airport, located in the dusty hamlet of Sikhupe 90 minutes from Mbabane, became fully operational last week.

The problem is that no airline wants  to go there.

“The airport is finished and ready for use,” Solomon Dube, Director of the Swaziland Civil Aviation Authority (SWACAA) told the Swazi media.

But the facility, which has no official name until the airport’s patron, King Mswati III, officiates at its dedication, sits idle.

The airport was built to rival Johannesburg’s Oliver Tambo International Airport (ORTIA) as a regional air hub.

Originally, the facility was to have opened in time for the 2010 FIFA World Cup games in South Africa. More than a dozen deadlines for completion were missed.

The airport can accommodate the newest wide-bodied jets, but efforts to bring international air carriers to Swaziland have failed because the so-called regional air hub has no air links to any other destination.

Business plan

“The Swazi Government has forgotten one important point: The only reason passengers would fly to Swaziland was because the kingdom was their final destination. If they wanted to go to some other country in southern Africa they would fly into airports in neighbouring South Africa and take already existing routes to their intended destination,” said commentator Richard Rooney on his Swazi Media blog.

Government built the new airport without a business plan because King Mswati wanted a new airport to help fulfil his decree that Swaziland become a First World Country by 2022.

The new airport is built to accommodate up to 400 000 air passengers annually, but only 70 000 air passengers flew in and out of Swaziland in 2012.

Now government must create an airline before the airport can attract any business.

“[European and Asian airlines] tell us they do not want their important passengers to be stranded in a Third World Country and therefore if we want them to use our airport we should also have a national airline which they would work with them [taking passengers] to places like Zimbabwe and Botswana for example,” Dube said.

Swaziland Airlink, which is majority owned by government, is the only air carrier currently serving Swaziland, and will not move from its current location at the Matsapha airport located between Manzini and Mbabane.

“Sikhupe is too far. It’s faster from someone from Mbabane to just drive to Johannesburg. They will have to force us out of Matsapha by closing the current airport,” said a source with Swaziland Airlink.

Regional airline

The airline only flies to and from Johannesburg. Other regional airlines that could transport passengers from overseas to destinations within Southern Africa have declined to fly to Swaziland because ORTIA is only 45 minutes away.

This leaves government with no other option than to create its own airline or else utilise the new airport solely as the home of King Mswati’s private jet.

The last national airline, Swaziland Airways, went bankrupt 20 years ago due to low passenger volume and mismanagement. The airline was a regional airline, flying to various SADC capitals.

The new airline would require at least three aircraft to service routes to other Southern African destinations.

The cost of the aircraft alone would exceed government’s spending on national education in 2014.
 
Costs of building and maintaining an airline company would be added to this.

- African Eye News Service

Read more on:    sadc  |  king maswati iii  |  sa  |  swaziland  |  southern africa
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
20 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

We will give you police - Zille

A total of 250 000 police on the streets is one of the election promises Helen Zille made during an anti-drugs and gangsterism march in Manenberg, Cape Town.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
  • Thursday Cape Town - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Buitengracht Street
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Waterkant Street
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Curve 9380

The first BlackBerry Curve smartphone with a touch screen Stay connected...

From R1799.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Self-indulgence may be strong today. You may want to enjoy yourself to the fullest and share it with those that make you feel...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.