Airspace ready for influx of mourners

2013-12-09 20:49

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Johannesburg - Further measures have been put in place to ensure safe air travel after the death of former president Nelson Mandela, the Air Traffic and Navigation Services (ATNS) and Airports Company SA (Acsa) said on Monday.

ATNS spokesperson Percy Morokane said the plans had been in place since Mandela died on Thursday.

"Potential risks that include among others, adverse weather conditions, have been identified and concomitant mitigating plans formulated," he said.

"ATNS staff have been strategically deployed at identified airports for the provision of day-and-night air traffic management services to match the expected demand."

An ATNS airspace management unit had been set up to co-ordinate slots and air traffic flow management from various airports to the Eastern Cape, where Mandela will be buried on Sunday.

The same had been put in place for his memorial service in Gauteng on Tuesday.

"Diversion alternatives have been identified and will be reviewed on a 24-hourly basis, and as and when the situation dictates," said Morokane.

Acsa said it was implementing plans to help the movement of passengers and aircraft. Spokeswoman Unathi Batyashe-Fillis said normal major event processes had been activated at OR Tambo International Airport and East London Airport.

Some Acsa staff had been sent to Mthatha Airport to help, even though it was not being an Acsa airport.

Military authorisation will be required for all flight operations scheduled for Mthatha Airport in preparation for former President Nelson Mandela’s State Funeral. 

No refuelling

No commercial traffic will be allowed into the airport, except for the existing Airlink schedule and South African Air Force chartered flights. 

They will also not allow any fuel uplifts and all flights have been advised to carry enough fuel for their return legs.

Acsa had enough fuel to death with demand over the next few days, said Batyashe-Fillis.

Acsa's acting operations director Andre Vermeulen said he was confident it would be able to handle Mandela's memorial service and funeral.

"We are confident that we will be able to serve the mourners with dignity and professionalism in this regard," he said.

Temporary infrastructure has been created at East London Airport to handle more than the 2 000 passengers per day that the airport currently facilitates.

Extra staff has also been allocated for the airport to assist in dealing with additional services. 

- SAPA

Read more on:    acsa  |  nelson mandela  |  east london  |  johannesburg  |  air travel
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