R35 mln to upgrade airport

2009-05-29 00:00

MORE than R35 million is needed over the next five years in order to turn Pietermaritzburg’s airport into a revenue-enhancing operation, the council was told last week.

At its last meeting, the executive committee (Exco) approved a motion that a presentation be made to the cabinet to determine whether the provincial government will support the venture financially.

Due to competing needs for funding, the Msunduzi Municipality lacks the necessary finances to ensure that the airport can be developed to its full potential.

The municipality’s priorities in terms of funding are largely geared towards the delivery of infrastructure and basic services, but the council feels a viable airport is necessary for the provincial capital.

Financial and physical constraints are limiting the airport’s development and municipal ratepayers are presently subsidising it to the tune of more than R4 million a year.

Acting manager for municipal enterprises Dr Julie Dyer said the financial sustainability of the airport is critical as the city is moving towards Metro status.

Councillor Themba Zungu said that although he supports the presentation to cabinet, the problem is that the airport is too small.

“It will only be profitable if it is relocated because at the moment only small aircraft can land there.

“We need a bigger airport that will cater to large planes,” he said.

Dyer said relocation would take place over 10 to 20 years, but for the next five to 10 years, the medium- term plan for the airport would be viable.

In the light of current management issues, the council decided to extend contractor Indiza’s contract for eight months.

This would give the municipality the time it needs to address management issues surrounding Indiza’s cleaning and security contracts, the loss of the administration and financial officer and implications for both the CAA operating licence and insurance cost.

 

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