Big plans for aerotropolis

2016-02-17 06:00
Lelo Kunene, commercial manager of ACSA, speaking during a business breakfast hosted in Port Elizabeth recently. The Airports Company shared their future plans for development around the Port Elizabeth airport with business leaders in the metro.  Foto: Gerdie de Lange

Lelo Kunene, commercial manager of ACSA, speaking during a business breakfast hosted in Port Elizabeth recently. The Airports Company shared their future plans for development around the Port Elizabeth airport with business leaders in the metro. Foto: Gerdie de Lange

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IT could take years to develop, but the Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) wants to turn Nelson Mandela Bay into a huge aerotropolis.

This was the message the company brought to business leaders when they shared their future plans for the Port Elizabeth airport at a business breakfast, co-hosted by the Nelson Mandela Bay business chamber.

“We want to develop the cities around each of our airports,” said Zinhle Ntanzi, assistant property manager for ACSA. “The idea is to establish the airport as the centre of the development, while creating nodes and business opportunities for the rest of the city.”

In the Bay this plan won’t be a “five-year concept”, Ntanzi added. “It is a long term plan that can take up to 20 years, but we already own land that will allow for development around the airport.”

These planned developments include a space of 1,5 hectares on Allister Miller Drive, which could be used for an office block, vehicle showrooms and other retailers. Another piece of land has been set aside for light industrial development, as well as distribution and self-storage facilities.

A third area of 6 hectares can be used for manufacturing and construction companies.

In the meantime, retailers and business owners will have the opportunity to join the airport, when the leases for 11 shop spaces, including a coffee shop, expire soon. “Most of the contracts are for open-concept retailers,” explained Lelo Kunene, commercial manager. “Each business has to be unique though, as to prevent them crippling other retailers in the airport through competition.”

Kunene said tender applications would soon be open for these contracts.

These developments were set in motion as part of a plan to create a better balance between the income earned from airline tickets and the businesses at the airport. “We want to shift the focus,” said Greg Small, acting airport manager. “The passenger totals have been declining each year for the last few years, and we can’t be critically dependent on passenger numbers for our main income anymore.”

Kevin Hustler, CEO of the business chamber, was very optimistic about ACSA’s plans. “We are at the beginning of a tough year, and that will probably affect local and international investment,” Hustler said. “Fortunately, the Bay’s businesses are agile. I hope to see the fruits of their labour realised in the next few years.”

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