UPDATE: Cape Town's new runway approved

Cape Town - Cape Town International Airport's long awaited runway realignment project has been given the final green-light approval from the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA)

The construction of the airport’s new realigned runway project marks a R3.8 billion investment into the economy of Cape Town and the Western Cape. The DEA concluded the appeals process and has now ruled that the runway project may proceed.

SEE: Cape Town's new runway a step closer after DEA green light

'Responsible developer'

Deidre Davids of Cape Town International Airport commenting on the milestone says, “The team has worked long and hard to get us to this point. We have gone out of our way to engage interested and affected parties and today we celebrate.

"We remain committed to being a responsible developer upholding all environmental and other requirements. Part of being a responsible developer is to be most mindful of the current water situation when we construct”, says Davids. 

What will the project entail:

  • The airport will realign the primary runway and construct parallel and rapid exit taxiways.
  • The realigned primary runway will be 3 500m in length and will be built to international specifications.
  • Improve access for larger aircraft with a wingspan of 65m or more, such as the Airbus A-380.
  • It is expected to get underway in 2019. 

The start date of 2019 is dependent on the timely conclusion of the detailed design states Davids. Acsa will notify the Department of Environmental Affairs at least 14 days before construction of the runway realignment project commences.

SEE: Cape Town's airport approach ranked as one of the most scenic in the world

Improved access, including A380 aircraft

The news bodes well for the Cape Town Air Access project, which to date has assisted in landing 12 new routes to the city's airport. The increased seat capacity is estimated at over 700 000. The new runway and associated infrastructure will facilitate greater air access into Cape Town and the Western Cape and will enable growth of passenger and cargo traffic that is essential for tourism and economic activity 

Routes recently added include Singapore Airlines, which increased its flights from four times a week to daily flights. Other new direct flights were also established to Victoria Falls and Cologne, as well as the expansion of Air France's Paris route.

SEE: #CapeWaterCrisis: Cancellations for Cape Town 'affects tourism across SA'

Festive season growth for international arrivals

While there are no clear indications as to what the immediate tourism impact is in relation to Cape Town's water scarcity issue - visitor figures are only estimated at 1 percent of overall consumption in peak periods.

Initial reports on the December 2017 peak tourism month show high growth in international arrivals, and an increase in visitors to regions across the Western Cape.

According Acsa, Cape Town International Airport registered 127,309 international arrivals for December 2017, an 11.5% increase from December 2016. Domestic arrivals by air dipped slightly by 2.2% to 389,324.  

“This project is about growth, not only for the airport and the network of Airports Company South Africa airports, but also for the region as a whole. Cape Town has every reason to celebrate.” says Davids.

“We wish to take the opportunity to thank industry, especially the airlines, the City and Province and the communities of Cape Town for their ongoing support”, she says.

Acsa manages South Africa’s nine principal airports and combined these airports process 40 million arriving and departing passengers a year.

In the 2016/17 financial year, Airports Company South Africa reported total revenue of R8.6 billion. Currently 63% of Airports Company South Africa revenue is derived from regulated tariffs for aircraft landing and parking fees and a passenger service charge. The remaining 37% is non-aeronautical revenue generated by airport retail, parking, property and other services. 

What to read next on Traveller24

- Cape Water Crisis: Cycle Tour to save 400k litres of water as 'Day Zero' moves forward

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#AfriTravel: New flight routes shaping your options across the continent

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