http://www.businessday.co.za/articles/Content.aspx?id=127840LANSERIA International Airport, west of Johannesburg, is poised for a major growth spurt next year with the planned introduction of 1time Airlines flights as well as kulula’s expansion into the turboprop regional market.
Several African airlines, serving point-to-point markets, have also expressed interest in flying from the airport.
Gavin Sayce, airport manager at privately owned Lanseria, said yesterday that the operator will spend "hundreds of millions of rand" on a new runway, a multi-storey parkade and some changes to the terminal building in the next 12 months to cope with the increased demand.
"We are also improving our shuttle service in our car park and are in talks with several hotel operators regarding the possibility of building a hotel in the airport grounds," Mr Sayce said.
Last year the Lanseria airport expanded its parking to 1800 bays and any additional bays will have to be accommodated in a multistorey parkade to ensure the airport maintains its reputation for convenience.
"Plans for an upgraded runway have been on the drawing board for some time, but we put the project on ice due to the Soccer World Cup," he said.
The airport’s apron can accommodate up to six narrow-body aircraft at one time, with capacity to extend this to nine.
This surge in demand and the resulting upgrades come at the end of a five-year exclusivity agreement this year between Lanseria and kulula operator Comair , which has opened the market to new operators.
Glenn Orsmond, CEO of 1time, said yesterday that the airline is in advanced discussions with Lanseria and hopes to begin flights in the first half of next year. "We have given Lanseria management our schedules and are finalising the details of the agreement," Mr Orsmond said.
Kulula also plans to expand its presence at the airport next year, using turboprop aircraft to serve the regional market. It has already secured the rights for flights between Lanseria and Maputo.
Gidon Novick, joint-CEO of Comair, said yesterday it will also add further domestic flights once the new runway is in place. The low-cost airline already flies on average seven times a day to Cape Town and six times to Durban.
Mr Sayce said while the airport’s domestic terminal is reaching capacity, there is still scope for expansion in international departures to cope with growing regional flights.
"The sub-Saharan African air market is opening up rapidly and Lanseria is ideally placed to serve it," he said.
In the past five years, since kulula launched its first flights, the airport has grown rapidly. Mr Sayce said that this year more than 1-million passengers will have used the airport and the introduction of new scheduled services is likely to boost that number substantially next year.
"For us the challenge is to keep the service level and convenience of a small airport while expanding the airport. That is what sets Lanseria apart from other airports," Mr Sayce said.
The aim is to continue to add incrementally to the airport’s facilities to ensure capacity remains ahead of any future demand.