Durban’s Dube TradePort cargo terminal – which has been on the cards for the past 15 years – is now almost complete and World Flight Services (WFS) has been appointed the new cargo terminal operator on a five-year exclusive contract, KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Economic Development and Tourism Michael Mabuyakhulu said last week.
WFS was headhunted because it has a wealth of experience and knowledge gained from operating 112 cargo terminals across the globe. It also has a record of successfully growing cargo volumes. Currently, KwaZulu-Natal produces about 25 000 t of air cargo a year, which is transported by road to OR Tambo International Airport, in Gauteng.
Mabuyakhulu said the provincial government had championed the cause of building a new international airport and trade port at the La Mercy site, because it would serve as a major engine capable of driving economic growth and development during the next 30 years.
“However, the construction of a new tradeport alone will not automatically lead to economic growth and development. “We all need to focus on and address a range of competitive issues, including international connectivity, efficient operations and the need for local firms to take advantage of the infrastructure in order to grow their businesses, their volumes and their share of global markets.”
Air Emirates has already signed up to start its new international service from the current airport with effect from October 1.
“This is a signal that KwaZulu-Natal, with its current global travelling market of more than 800 000 passengers, has the market to expand our international connectivity,” Mabuyakhulu said.
He added that the provincial government was targeting at least five international destinations in the airport’s first five years of operation. It would also actively promote resort development, tourism, the perishables sector and other low-weight high-value manufacturing activities, with the view to stimulating greater international passenger and cargo demand.
Mabuyakhulu said the provincial government was also aware that the Dube TradePort and new international airport would mean an economic change and adjustment, as it would involve relocation from one part of the city to another.
The provincial government has, therefore, put in place a policy framework that will peg rental rates for users for the first three years of operation before they are renegotiated.
He said South Africa was expected to show positive economic progress from early next year and that this trend would continue, albeit at a slow pace.
WFS executive chairperson, president and CEO Olivier Bijaoul said the company was interested in taking over the operations of the cargo terminal as the new international airport and Dube TradePort made for “one of the most impressive and professional new airport projects in the world”.
Bijaoul said WFS was the largest cargo
handler in the world, handling 3,5-million tons of cargo a year for more than 300 airlines and airports at 120 locations worldwide.
The new 15 800-m2 cargo terminal has the long-term capacity to process up to two-million tons a years.
The appointment represents WFS’s first- ever contract in Africa.