News24

Rain closes George airport

2010-02-22 08:04

George - Western Cape Premier Helen Zille was a passenger on one of the 25 flights which couldn't land at the George airport on Sunday because the runway was closed due to rain.

Colin Naidoo, spokesperson for the Airports Company of South Africa (Acsa), said at 17:00 that all the flights to George had to be diverted to other airports.

Zille was on one of the flights. She had been in Soshanguve on Saturday, and would have visited D'Almeida in Mossel Bay on Sunday where a by-election will be held on Wednesday. Her flight was diverted back to Port Elizabeth and then to Cape Town, according to the DA's Jaco Londt.

Safety tests


An interim measure was ordered by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) that no aircraft may land at the George airport in wet conditions until the results of safety tests, conducted at the runway by CAA officials last week, have been revised.

In December last year, an SA Airlink passenger flight overshot the runway at George airport when it landed in rainy weather, and came to a stop on a public road. No-one was injured in the incident.

Tests conducted two days after the incident showed that the runway does comply with the minimum standards of the ICAO. The follow-up tests where scheduled as part of the CAA's investigation into the incident.

Naidoo said on Sunday that they're still waiting for the results of the latest tests. It is unclear how long the process will take.

Due to the dry weather in the George area lately, it has not been necessary to close the airport for traffic since the incident. However, light rain fell over George on Sunday morning, and by 18:00 conditions were still wet and overcast.