Aviation services provider Nordic Airport Solutions (NAS) will, in conjunc- tion with the South African Con-sortium, establish and operate a new regional airport in Vryheid, north of KwaZulu-Natal.
NAS comprises Future Airport Solutions and Norway-based firm Campus Kjeller, while the South African Consortium comprises air charter solutions provider Adajet, flight maintenance company Fastjet and engineering and project management company Delca Systems, which operate in a public–pri- vate partnership with the Abaqulusi munici- pality and the Othaka Tribal Authority.
The new airport will be situated 10 km from the existing airport, which will be closed down as soon as the new facility is complete.
“The current airport’s capacity is no longer sufficient to meet the growing aviation demands and potential in South Africa, as the runways are too short, there is no tower and the surrounding buildings halt new devel- opments,” says Vryheid regional airport project coordinator Stanley Kubheka.
Funding for this project, the cost of which is undisclosed, will be provided by development finance institution the Nordic Development Fund and local funders like the National Empowerment Fund, the Development Bank of Southern Africa and the Industrial Devel-opment Corporation.
Once financing is finalised, NAS will start the airport planning based on decisions made by the South African authorities, the recom- mendations contained in the feasibility study for the project and the terms of reference jointly agreed to by the project management team in the main development contract, he adds.
The project was approved in July last year by the Abaqulusi municipality and should be completed no later than 2017.
The proposed airport master plan includes a multipurpose air cargo terminal designed for perishable and high-value goods, such as fresh food and flowers; separate facilities for receiving fresh seafood products; refinery, repacking and distribution facilities; and an aircraft technical centre working in cooperation with aircraft producers. It is envisaged that this facility will initially become a feeder to the Dube TradePort.
In addition, it also includes an airport hotel and lecturing centre.
Particular focus will be paid to airport environmental issues, including the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions, use of alternative energy sources and increased security.
New developments at the airport will result in increased job opportunities in entities such as tax-free stores, car rental businesses, export and import operations, security, storage and the processing of goods, says Kubheka.
The new Vryheid regional airport is regarded as a necessity for the development of local business activities, such as mining, tourism, agricultural products, education and aircraft technical safety services.
The airport will host a flight school, as well as a repair and maintenance facility, which will ease the burden on such facilities at OR Tambo International Airport.
“It is envisaged that Vryheid regional airport will ultimately become an international airport,” says Kubheka.