Aviation body argues to keep airport open

Posted On Tuesday, 10 November 2009 02:00 Published by eProp Commercial Property News
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The Commercial Aviation Association of SA is pushing for aviation authorities to keep Durban International Airport operating after the new King Shaka Airport opens next year.

King Shaka intThe Commercial Aviation Association of SA (Caasa) is pushing for aviation authorities to keep Durban International Airport operating after the new King Shaka Airport at La Mercy, north of Durban, opens next year.

This follows airline group Comair’s spurned offer to buy the airport last month. Caasa CEO Kim Gorringe said last week if an agreement to keep the airport operating could not be reached, it would consider a complaint against the Airports Company SA (Acsa) with the Competition Commission. Gorringe said he was hopeful some kind of agreement could still be reached.

Acsa plans to shut down the Durban airport and sell the land after the La Mercy airport is opened in the second quarter of next year. Acsa is opposed to keeping the airport open, citing competition concerns.

Last month, Acsa management rejected Comair’s offer for the old Durban airport.

Gorringe said the general aviation sector — which includes numerous fixed-wing and helicopter charter operations and flight schools — faced an uncertain future at Virginia Airport, with the eThekwini city council threatening to end the long-term lease on the airport by 2012, renewing it month to month.

“This will make it very difficult to operate a business,” Gorringe said. Another concern for Caasa is that Virginia’s general flying area, or uncontrolled airspace, falls within the La Mercy airport’s controlled airspace. “Not only is Virginia airport under threat from the city council, but the airport is bursting at the seams with nowhere to expand. Therefore Caasa is suggesting that the city council sell Virginia airport and use the funds to buy Durban International Airport,” said Gorringe. He said he understood Acsa’s concerns regarding immediate competition to the R6,7bn La Mercy airport and supported a 10-year moratorium to prevent the municipality from selling the old airport to direct competitors such as Comair.

Caasa has also written to Chris Smyth, acting CEO of South African Airways, offering to donate some of the land the airline owns at the old airport to set up an aviation centre of excellence.

 

Last modified on Thursday, 31 October 2013 08:56

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