PMB airport facelift nearly complete

2013-08-03 00:00

IN two months time the Pietermaritzburg Airport will be able to handle the landing of bigger planes and the increase of passengers coming into the city.

The construction at the facility, which started earlier this year, will be complete at the end of October, and city officials are optimistic that the upgrade will boost the city’s coffers.

Spokesperson for the municipality, Brian Zuma, said: “The extension and developments at the airport are as a result of increased passenger activity, which points to the fact that there are more people coming to do business and/or touring our city.”

Dumisani Mhlongo of KZN Tourism believes the revamp will help the city’s tourism: “One of the structural issues of the airport was size. With the revamp we hope the airport will accommodate more people, especially since we are in an area where the tourism industry is growing.”

It is not only the tourism industry that may benefit from the revamp, but also businesses that stand to gain, according to Melanie Veness from Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business.

“Access is absolutely critical for economic growth. It has now become easier for people to come here for business or for pleasure. This is an amazing place to live and raise your children. More people realise this and are coming here,” Veness told Weekend Witness.

Economist Clive Koetzee said: “The terminal building is not only being extended, it is being completely reconfigured. All the extensions will adhere to the South African Civil Aviation Authority regulations.

“The departure hall will be able to hold 150 passengers. The cafeteria will be bigger and more professional. We are allowing space for kiosks to operate in the building. All these renovations cost roughly R10 million. The apron reconfiguration costs around R5,5 million.”

The airport will remain open while construction at the building is being done. Although the revamp is aimed at accommodating increasing numbers, it remains relatively small. Therefore, SA Airlink will remain the only airline operating to and from the airport for now.

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