Unbeknownst to many, there is a major demand for exclusive airport VIP services on the part of the world's super rich and seriously famous. And as SA enjoys an unprecedented influx of superstars and billionaires discovering our scintillating shores, the business of catering to these elite is also booming locally.
Forsyth Black, senior vice president of Menzies Aviation for Africa, the Middle East and India, says in the past five years, the handling company has seen huge demand for its VIP Services, with many celebrities and moguls making use of the service as they stepped onto the tarmac in SA this past year.
"There is a significant market for VIP Services in South Africa, and over the years our offering has grown exponentially and is now available at six SA airports - OR Tambo, Cape Town, Durban, East London, Port Elizabeth and George," says Black. "But of course it's no longer only a service for the stars and captains of industry - many travellers every day have started to make use of the service, to save them the hassle and stress of getting through a busy airport."
A traveller who makes use of the service will enjoy a pickup from the plane while her baggage is transferred from the plane and delivered to the limo waiting on the other side of immigration, while she herself will be whisked through without having to join lengthy immigration queues. Hotel accommodation and transfers can also be taken care of by the VIP crew.
"Our Meet and Greet Services assist with all the hassle and tedium associated with arriving at an international destination, including transfers, baggage collection, immigration assistance, and check-in, plus limousine services, any required land arrangements and even security services and VIP protection," says Black.
For the inauguration of President Jacob Zuma in 2009, for instance, Menzies VIP services managed the handling of 22 heads of state. It also regularly handles sports, movie and music stars, and global captains of industry.
"As South Africa increasingly becomes a must-visit destination, performance venue and movie location, the demand for VIP services increased dramatically, and we expect this demand to grow even more in coming years," says Black.