Airports ready for World Cup influx

There will be an extra 120 000 flights over the World Cup period, the Airports Company said yesterday.  At a briefing on the airports’ preparedness for the tournament, Acsa group manager of operations Andre Vermeulen said there had been an increase in the number of requests for more slots in June and July from commercial and non-commercial airlines. 

Vermeulen said the number of flights over the World Cup period would almost double in relation to other times in the year.  Meanwhile, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe assured visitors that they will not be ripped off by airline companies during the World Cup. 

“There will be no ripping off by increasing airfares,” he said at Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium yesterday after touring it with Fifa president Sepp Blatter, Local Organising Committee chairman Irvin Khoza and KwaZulu-Natal Premier Dr Zweli Mkhize. 

Motlanthe said that although prices were determined by the airlines, he believed that people would not be ripped off.  His comment followed concerns that some airline companies were inflating prices in a “get rich quick” scheme.

The Competition Commission has announced that it is investigating collusion among airlines on World Cup prices and pricing strategies.  A soccer-lover, Motlanthe jokingly said he felt he could put on his football boots and test his skills at Moses Mabhida Stadium. 

He was pleased that World Cup stadiums were being completed but said there was still more work to be done, including preparing to deal with the movement of people during the tournament.  “We also need to make sure that we garner the spirit of ubuntu before our visitors arrive,” he said. 

Motlanthe was hopeful that an African team would win the World Cup.  “The cup will remain in this continent. It is the chance of a lifetime,” he said.  South Africa expected the arrival of about 500 000 soccer spectators between June 11 and July 11. 

Motlanthe said the benefits of hosting the World Cup were already being felt by the economy and South Africans, through the employment of people in the building of infrastructure such as roads and stadiums.  The country would also benefit from tourism as some visitors would come back after the tournament. 

Currently OR Tambo International Airport’s incoming and outgoing flights operated in about 45 to 46 slots an hour and can manage 60 an hour.  The airport’s general manager, Chris Hlekane, speaking on behalf of the 10 airports which will handle World Cup fans, said that with 100 days to go the operations plan was 90 percent complete. 

All major projects at OR Tambo International had been completed. At Cape Town International, the departures level was 80 percent complete.  The upgrading of access roads, the multi-storey parkade and the central terminal building would be completed this month. 

Durban’s King Shaka International airport would be completed in April and operational in May.  “We have now entered a critical stage and we will continue with our partners to ensure that the operational plans are completed within the next couple of weeks,” said Hlekane.

Source:  www.pretorianews.co.za, 20100303

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