As South Africa seeks to strengthen international trade links and encourage overseas investment, there is a huge onus on its transportation hubs, with air travel and infrastructure a key component to the nation’s success.
Much of the responsibility for handling passenger and cargo numbers efficiently falls squarely on the broad shoulders of Airports Company South Africa (ACSA), an entity which has managed 9 airports in South Africa since 1993, when they were transferred from Government ownership.
Airports Company South Africa SOC Ltd is the largest airport authority in Africa. With a global footprint spanning 3 continents, ACSA provides a professional, world-class service for South Africa’s 9 principle airports as well as airports in Mumbai, India and São Paulo, Brazil.
ACSA’s 9 domestic airports encompass O.R. Tambo International, Cape Town International, King Shaka International, Bram Fischer International, Port Elizabeth International, Upington International, East London Airport, George Airport and Kimberley Airport. Collectively these airports are responsible for more than 80 per cent of South Africa’s commercial air travel, managing over 35 million passengers per year.
Over the years ACSA has made significant investment in infrastructure as the aviation sector has seen an upturn in demand. In support of this commitment, the company has implemented Airport Management Centres (AMCs) throughout its network. An AMC’s focus is on improving all operational aspects of the mobility value chain.
In additional to its South African portfolio, ACSA has overseas interests and for the past 8 years has also managed and operated Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai. The airport processes 29 million passengers per annum and 340,000 tons of cargo. Airports Company South Africa has also developed, manages and operates Guarulhos International Airport in São Paulo, Brazil. Guarulhos is the busiest international airport in Latin America, handling 28 million passengers and 358,000 tons of cargo per annum.
Clearly ACSA’s investment and experience is working well, as in late February the news came through that O.R. Tambo International Airport had walked away with the title “African Airport of the Year”.
“We are especially proud as this is the second time in a row that our airport has been bestowed with this accolade,” said Ms Bongiwe Pityi, the General Manager of O.R. Tambo International Airport.
O.R. Tambo International first won the award at the second biennial Air Cargo Africa instalment, held at Emperor’s Palace in 2013.
“Together with our excellent location, accessibility and connectivity, O.R. Tambo International also has great and reliable infrastructure. We also collaborate well with the relevant stakeholders to continue providing efficient service to our cargo customers,” added Pityi.
The African Airport of the year award comes hot on the heels of Airports Company South Africa’s signing of a cargo management cooperation agreement with Mitteldeutsche Airport Holding of Leipzig/Halle Airport. The agreement, signed at Air Cargo Africa 2015 on 25 February, will expand international air cargo market opportunities, elevating both airports’ status in the air transportation industry. The strategic partnership will involve the exchange of information and individual expertise along with cooperation in customer acquisition.
O.R. Tambo International Airport services over 50 airlines to approximately 100 destinations, locally, regionally and internationally. The airport is the largest cargo airport in Africa and boasting capacity of 390 000 tons per year.
Further accolade was awarded during February when it was announced that Airports Council International (ACI), the trade association of the world’s airports, has named Upington International Airport the Best Small Airport in Africa for 2014 for the fourth consecutive year.
The Best Small Airport by Region category is open to airports with fewer than 2 million passengers per year.
ACI’s prestigious ASQ Survey is based on interviews with passengers on the day of travel and covers 34 key service areas including categories such as access, check-in, security, airport facilities, food and beverage and retail. The responses are used to rank airports worldwide. The survey is widely recognised as a leading benchmark of passenger satisfaction.
In the same survey, Airports Company South Africa’s other airports, King Shaka International, Cape Town International Airport and O.R. Tambo International featured taking second, third and fourth place respectively in the Best Airport by Region (Africa) Category. The first place went to Mauritius’ SSR International Airport.
“The strong performance by our airports in the survey is evidence of our commitment to excellent customer service, which is a central element of our business plan. That is why it is important for us to benchmark our performance against the best airports in the world. This is in line with our strategy to build an efficient and customer-focused business. The survey provides useful data on our customers’ perceptions and priorities,” stated ACSA’s CEO Bongani Maseko.
Yvette Schoeman, Regional Airports General Manager at Airports Company South Africa, congratulated Nongo Dibete, manager of the winning airport.
“We are especially pleased that Upington International has won this award because of the changes to the profile of passengers using the airport. In particular, we see engineers and other workers using the airport to get to the solar energy and other projects being developed in the Northern Cape. Their positive experiences also enhance the reputation of South Africa as a whole,” said Schoeman.
“It is satisfying to note that our efforts to deliver an efficient and seamless traveller experience are paying off. These awards inspire us to work even harder to improve customer experience at all our airports in this fiercely competitive market,” says Schoeman.
The aerospace industry continues to evolve with lightning speed but Africa remains an area with great potential. Within South Africa the future looks to be in safe hands with ACSA if the start of 2015 is anything to go by.