PMB airport runway gets state-of-the-art upgrade

2011-03-21 00:00

PIETERMARITZBURG Airport will be the first in Africa to have a sophisticated, state-of-the-art runway surface in one of many upgrades.

The aiport’s new runway surface, known as the Macgrid glass grid, is a high-strength polyester with a coating of polymer material. Its strength ensures that it lasts for as several years more than tarred runways that usually develop cracks.

The plans were presented at a function at the airport’s Aero Club on Thursday attended by Finance MEC Ina Cronjé, Msunduzi Municipality speaker Babu Baijoo and officials of the department and council.

There are more changes in store besides the laying of the new runway surface, which is under way, and improvements such as upgrading of the navigation equipment, raising the airport from a category 4 to category 6 establishment, the introduction of flights to Johannesburg by Airlink and improving the firefighting capacity.

The biggest among these is the extension of the runway by about 600 metres over Murray Road on to the University of KwaZulu-Natal Ukulinga research farm land. The runway resurfacing will cost an estimated R16 million while the runway extension would cost more than R200 million.

Other planned upgrades include:

• Upgrading the terminal building

• Additional high mast lighting

• A parallel taxiway

• Maintenance workshop building

• Hangar development area

• Freight/trade development

The presenters said there are many other possible developments for the land adjacent to the airport such as a petrol station, a weather station and a hotel.

Cronjé said she has welcomed with excitement and satisfaction the updates on the airport’s upgrade and longer-term plans.

“So far we are quite excited and satisfied with the new developments at Pietermaritzburg Airport. We welcome the unique runway, which is the first of its kind in the country in terms of the material and the sophisticated first-world technology that is used.”

Cronjé said the international partnership in the project, which will see local people getting direct transfer of the international labour skills and knowledge that will benefit the province and country immensely, is also appreciated.

The engineers who are working on the project have indicated that they will enter the work done at the airport for engineering awards.

“It is encouraging to hear that some of our engineers who are participating in this project will be nominated to participate in the National Construction Awards and the National Engineering Awards,” said Cronjé.

“The upgrading of the airport, coupled with the restoration of confidence of previous customers, will add to the economic development and growth of Pietermaritzburg.

“This will certainly upgrade the status of the capital city,” Cronjé added.




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