Smooth start: King Shaka International 'among the best airports in the world'

2010-05-03 00:00

THE day King Shaka International Airport opened for business went off smoothly: no flights were delayed and there were no major glitches.

The complex was a hive of activity on Saturday as hundreds of people waited for flight SAA 528, the first to leave the airport. Unlike Durban International Airport, which is to be decommissioned, King Shaka International does not have a public viewing deck, so people stood on a platform outside the terminal to catch a glimpse of the maiden flight.

Premier Zweli Mkhize, Economic Development and Tourism MEC Michael Mabuyakhulu and Transport Minister S’bu Ndebele also visited the airport.

The Sharks rugby team were among the first passengers to use the R7,2 billion complex, the first brand-new international airport in South Africa in more than two decades. Eight domestic and two international airlines have made King Shaka International Airport their new home base.

Ndebele said the opening of King Shaka heralds a new era in aviation in KwaZulu-Natal and South Africa. “This world-class facility is a clear indication of where South Africa wants to be in terms of development,” he said.

Several officials attending the Africa Peace Awards, held in Durban and convened by the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes, told The Witness that King Shaka is among the best airports in the world. “It’s huge and this gives a feeling of comfort. This is a beautiful airport and I hope to pass through it again,” said Afaf Yahya from Sudan.

Airports Company South Africa MD Monhla Hlahla said the airport is expected to become a significant facilitator of economic development in the region.

King Shaka International will be officially opened by President Jacob Zuma on Saturday.

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