New Wings for Capital City
The official opening of the Pietermaritzburg Terminal Building and reconfigured apron took place this week, two years after the first upgrade to the airport was unveiled. The City airport was at an alltime low with many potential passengers opting to fly out of Durban, rather than risk missing important engagements due to the cancellations or delays of flights out of Pietermaritzburg, due to bad weather.
In her opening speech MEC Ina Cronje outlined the potential for the refurbished airport, and shared relevant statistics with VIP guests.
“A lot of hard work and sweat from very dedicated people has made Pietermaritzburg Airport an airport to be proud of today,” the MEC reiterated. Some of the current statistics are very encouraging: Passenger numbers have nearly doubled from a monthly average of about 5 000 in 2009 to about 9 200 per month; the airport had a record number of 10 400 passengers in October 2013. · The Net Revenue has more than doubled from about R2.7m in 2009 to R5.5m this year. · The cash flow has increased from a deficit of R3m in 2009 to surplus of R1m this year. · After three years of cumulative losses, the cumulative deficit was completely wiped out in September 2013. We now have a financially viable airport.
Future prospects for the airport look promising with the celebration of the R18 million upgrade of the terminal building and apron. The Durban University of Technology has put a proposal on the table to develop an aviation academy at the PMB airport. A proposal for the establishment of an Innovation and Technology Hub to be built around an aviation cluster at the airport , supported by the National Department of Science and Technology and Technology Innovation Agency, has been received.”
The MEC stressed that this progress needed to be taken further, and mention was made of the following: the need to strengthen the airport committee; a need for a hangar development plan to capitalise on the demand for hangars and hangar space and a need to market the airport beyond the district and municipal boundaries.
The MEC made it clear that the investment in a regional airport is not an arbitrary one. Passenger numbers across the globe are expected to double by 2020, and there is an major activity in airport expansionsaround the world.
Approximately 4.5 million people work on airport sites globally and airports can play a strategic role in the economic development of a local community. The expression “if it is not happening, they are nowhere near an airport.”is an appropriate one.
The opening finished on a congratulatory note with the MEC commending the Msunduzi Municipality and all stakeholders involved in the project. “ You have done us proud. Let us now take it to new heights! …” she concluded.