Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) can confirm that both domestic and international passenger volumes and aircraft movements at OR Tambo International Airport (ORTIA) are steadily recovering to pre-pandemic levels, following a boost over the festive season and a strong start to the year.
Domestic passenger volumes at ORTIA totalled 720 816 in February this year, which reflects a 77% recovery rate when compared to the same month in 2019, slightly down from January when domestic passenger volumes totalled 731 188 (a 78% recovery rate) and December last year which saw a total volume of 837 611 domestic passengers (a 79% recovery rate).
International passenger volumes are recovering at a slightly slower rate but are nonetheless showing a satisfactory rate of recovery. In February, the total number of international passengers stood at 486 422, which is a 72% recovery rate compared to the same month in 2019. In January, ORTIA recorded a total number of 582 372 international passengers (a 71% recovery rate), while in December last year, the airport recorded 646 847 international passengers (a 70% recovery rate).
“We are pleased with the rate of recovery for both domestic and international passengers at OR Tambo International Airport, with the recovery to near pre-pandemic numbers being spurred on by the increased demand during peak season,” says ORTIA General Manager Jabulani Khambule.
“We are also satisfied that our response to the peak season passenger volumes was adequate and allowed us to comfortably deal with the increased numbers of travellers passing through our airport. Thanks to our Integrated Peak Season Plan, we were able to ensure that we had sufficient resources on hand to meet demand and be able to deliver of a world-class passenger.”
Welcoming new airlines
Khambule notes that are number of airlines will commence flights into and out of ORTIA this year, including Air Algerie and Eswatini Air, which started operating scheduled flights this month. International carrier FlySafair is expected to add a new route – between Johannesburg and Zanzibar from 1 April this year, while Latam Airlines is expected to commence scheduled flights betweenJ ohannesburg and Sao Paulo, Brazil, in August 2024. Additionally, Cathay Pacific is expected to resume flights between Johannesburg and Hong Kong in August this year.
Last year also saw a number of airlines commencing flights into and out of ORTIA, with Air Belgium having started operating flight between Johannesburg and Brussels in September, while Air Cote d’Ivoire commenced operations in July with flights between Johannesburg and Kinshasa and Condor started flights between Johannesburg and Frankfurt, Germany, in November. In addition, South Confidential Confidential African Airways added two new routes in December last year, between Johannesburg and Windhoek, Namibia, and Johannesburg and Victoria Falls, Zambia.
“We are always pleased to welcome new airlines to OR Tambo International Airport, as new carriers spell good news for South Africa, as well as the Southern African region. As the main transport hub and gateway into Africa, OR Tambo not only provides airlines with world-class and secure infrastructure, but we also play a pivotal role in promoting tourism, economic growth and job creation,” says Khambule.
Currently, ORTIA boasts 46 operating airlines, including three regional, five domestic and 38 international carriers. “Welcoming new airlines to OR Tambo is a key focus for us, as the airport play a crucial role in providing the link that facilitates the movement of goods and services, as well as people, in the region for both economic and cultural exchanges among the nations of the African continent,” adds Khambule.
He notes that ACSA has also completed a number of enhancements made at the airport, with the
aim of providing a world-class and seamless experience for passengers. This includes the rollout of
the South African Traveller Management System (SATMS) in conjunction with the South African
Revenue Service (SARS).
“SATMS is a web-based application that enables travellers entering and leaving the country to pre-declare goods purchased, received or otherwise acquired and pay applicable taxes. This is part of SARS’ efforts to strengthen its controls to detect and deter illicit financial flows,” says Khambule.
“The system makes it easy and simple for travellers to comply with their legal obligations. SAR plans to implement this new system at all points of entry within the coming year, following the completion of a successful pilot project at King Shaka International Airport.”
O.R Tambo International Airport will also be welcoming E-gates. E-gates have biometric scanners that will allow South African passport holders to be processed through immigration without visiting an immigration officer. This will provide several benefits, including increased processing rate at
immigration and reduced waiting times, which will result in a vastly improved passenger experience.
Khambule further notes that the project to upgrade ORTIA’s parking infrastructure, which includes the replacement of aging equipment to ensure the parking process remains reliable and efficient, is progressing.
“We currently have a total of more than 12 000 parking bays available and operational at OR Tambo International Airport, and the infrastructure upgrade will ensure that passengers and visitors to our airport can enjoy a seamless and hassle-free experience, whether making use of our short-term or long-term parking facilities,” he says.
“The revamped parking system now includes multiple payment options, additional high-tech security elements, round the clock surveillance and variable parking fees.”
Khambule reminds the public that the relocation of public transport operators such as e-hailing, shuttles and meter taxis is one of the interventions that O.R. Tambo International Airport embarked on to ease traffic congestion on the roadways. The Central Pick up and drop off, Parkade 2 – level 2 is the designated area that enables passengers to swiftly get into their preferred transport and effortlessly leave the airport as well as seamlessly be dropped off and access the terminal.
Focus projects for 2023
The important upcoming project at the airport are the following:
1. Refurbishements of the roofs
Khambule acknowledges that O.R. Tambo International Airport has elements of ageing infrastructure. “Our Maintenance and Engineering team will be revamping the roofs in a phased approach in the various parts of the airport.”
2. Ablution facility revamp
“We have heard the concerns from our passengers and airport users hence we will be revamping the ablution facilities. This will be a live project which means that while the maintenance is taking place we will have to completely close off that ablution facility and do the construction then open it up when the work has been completed. I know this may inconvenience some of our passengers because they will have to walk a little bit further to the next ablutions and we apologise for this. I request that you be patient for us as we improve our service and facilities.” Says Khambule
3. Development of the intermodular transport facility
Khambule explains that this is a facility particularly for airport employees. An area wherein they can take a taxi in a convenient and safe environment.