Domestic air traffic during the 2010 FIFA World Cup is expected to increase by between 20% and 30%, an official from the Air Traffic and Navigation Services (ATNS) said on Tuesday.
Domestic airlines were expected to increase the number of aircraft and the number of flights per plane during the sports event, which takes place in June.
ATNS executive manager for service delivery Boni Dubate said that the increased flights were mostly expected to take place during the evening hours and would be diverted mostly to smaller airports.
Currently, the ATNS was responsible for about 600 000 air movements a year, or about 56 movements an hour at the OR Tambo International Airport, 30 an hour at the Cape Town International Airport and 24 an hour at the Durban Airport.
Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele said that South Africa's rail, road and air transportation systems were capable of transporting the 400 000 fans expected during the event.
Ndebele said that the need for a central flow management unit (CFMU) was recognised by ATNS several years ago, and, as a result of this, the central airspace management unit (CAMU) was born.
The CAMU has since then carried out strategic pretactical and tactical flow management, while also managing the flexible use of air space and the successful implementation of slot allocations.
The R54-million system will be the first system of its type that would be fully integrated into an advanced air traffic management (ATM) system enabling automated strategic pretactical and tactical air traffic flow management.
Ndebele said that the system would have collaborative decision making abilities, which would ensure that the reasonable requirement of air traffic control, aircraft operators, military aviation and airport operators were considered by the CAMU before an airspace plan is finalised. This process also ensures that the South Africa airspace and airport facilities were optimally used and aircraft trajectory was calculated to accommodate the aircraft operator's requirements.
Site acceptance tests were currently under way, and were expected to be concluded by October 21. Ndebele noted tht a period of in-house testing would then take place, and a safety case would be presented to the South African Civil Aviation Society. It was enivsagesd that the full operational use of the system would start by the end of the first quarter in 2010, and that it would be fully operational in time for the FIFA World Cup.