- A group of entrepreneurs want to develop a small airfield near the northern suburbs of Cape Town into an airport hub.
- The Cape Winelands Airport will be aimed at the general aviation sector and private aircraft owners, but the plan is to maybe also accommodate scheduled passenger flights in time.
- The planned development will also have a drone port.
A group of entrepreneurs have big plans to develop a new airport hub in Cape Town.
The Cape Winelands Airport, formerly known as the Fisantekraal Airfield, is 15km outside Cape Town's northern suburb of Durbanville.
The airfield currently has four concrete runways, which date from around 1943, built for the use of the air force during the Second World War.
It was bought by private owners in the early 1990s, and it is currently used by private recreational plane owners, as well as for activities like training, tour operations and aerial surveyance. It is limited to light aircraft traffic.
A group of investors - including developers Nick Ferguson and Jody Aufrightig as well as entrepreneur and aviation enthusiast Robert Hersov, grandson of Bob Hersov, co-founder of mining and industrial company Anglovaal - bought the airfield in November last year.
They want to eventually establish the Cape Winelands Airport as a full-service hub that caters for both scheduled passenger flights as well as general aviation activities, including non-scheduled flights by private plane owners.
The new owners believe that the airport's appeal will be its proximity to the northern suburbs of Cape Town, as well as the Cape Winelands and Franschhoek.
A 2019 report, released by AfrAsia Bank, found that there were almost 3 000 dollar millionaires living in the Winelands area (Paarl, Franschhoek and Stellenbosch) - more than in Pretoria.
The plan is to resurface two of the runways from concrete to asphalt, and build modern new facilities including hangars and commercial space for operators as well as a restaurant, parking and other shops, says Mark Wilkinson, general manager of the airport .
"The commercial space will be suitable for all operators in the aviation industry and their related support industries. The new hangars could also be used by individual flyers who own anything from a small aircraft to private jets."
"It could take a couple of years until we conclude the first phase of the new facilities, which would include new hangars and the resurfacing of the existing runways. We are planning the development in such a way that it does not exclude the potential of one day offering scheduled operations on an extended runway," says Wilkinson.
The plan is to offer a "completely green" airport, with offerings like an electric vehicle charging and a drone port," says Wilkinson.
"We see an increase in aviation activity in the years to come. The big issue for all prospective plane owners is where to keep their planes - big and small. The greater Cape Town area currently does not have sufficient capacity and therefore, the Cape Winelands Airport will also unlock the potential to cater for this market segment."
But it could take a few years before the full dream plan is completed. "The nature of this kind of development is that everything needs to be centred around the runway. Until then we cannot finalise the rest of the development," explains Wilkinson. "Once we choose which of the runways we want to develop further, we will proceed with the various regulatory approvals."
The total project is expected to cost billions of rand.
"We will engage with all of the necessary authorities required to get the development off the ground. Unlike the Lanseria airport outside Johannesburg, we have the benefit of planning for the final phase of the development from the start. But similarly to Lanseria, it will provide a major boost to employment and the economy," says Wilkinson.