Cape Town's new runway a step closer after DEA green light

2017-05-30 16:32 - Selene Brophy
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Cape Town  After a lengthy four-year environmental impact assessment period, the Department of Environmental Affairs has given Cape Town International the green light on its proposed runway realignment.

But the official work is still some way off, says the airport that passed the major milestone of 10 million passengers at the end of 2016 and the realignment of the airport’s runway a key issue for Acsa to ensure future growth. 

SEE: SA’s top airports see record-breaking arrivals for 2016

Deon Cloete, General Manager of Cape Town International Airport says, “We are indeed pleased to have reached this milestone within the environmental assessment process. It has required a great deal of planning and continuing engagement with communities to get to this point”.

Cloete says the environmental authorisation is just one step in the process and that the EIA process is not yet fully concluded.

“We still have a way to go and if all approvals are received at best construction is estimated to begin mid-2018. We will continue to follow a fair and responsible approach to this development.”

SEE: PICS: 5 super scary airport runways

“This runway project is not only about the growth of the airport, it’s about unlocking the growth potential of Cape Town and the Western Cape and we are pleased to be able to further contribute to development of the region,” says Cloete.

In 2016 the airport managed to ensure a 7.3% improvement when compared to 2015.

While the DEA approval follows a "detailed examination of an independent environmental impact assessment including submissions from other interested and affected parties", the independent environmental consultants, SRK Consulting, are now required to inform all interested and affected parties within 12 days as well as publish the DEA environmental authorisation.

The regulatory process now also provides a 20-day window period for appeals to be made against the environmental authorisation, says CT International Airport.

What exactly is going to happen and change at Cape Town International Airport if all the approvals have been passed? 

An official proposal to re-align the primary runway and construct parallel and rapid exit taxiway make up the bulk of the overhaul, both physically and financially. 

The authorisation granted by the Department of Environmental Affairs includes extensions to and realignment of the runway as well as associated infrastructure such as aircraft parking stands and taxiways.

Cape Town International spokesperson Deirdre Davids told Traveller24 previously, "The re-aligned primary runway, Runway 18-36, will be 3 500 m in length and will be built to international specifications, allowing larger aircraft, like A380s and other Code F aircraft, to land here."

Added infrastructure such as an aircraft isolation pad (AIP), a compass calibration pad and an aircraft run-up area, and security facilities including a perimeter fence and upgraded service roads are also planned. 

This part of the project will take up an estimated R3.2 billion. This is some R600m more than when the last upgrades were done at Cape Town International Airport, ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup at a cost just over R2.6 billion. 

SEE: Comair: Acsa's 35% passenger tax cut is not enough

"The core of the project is about enabling growth for the airport and the City of Cape Town," Davids says. "It will facilitate unrestricted air access into Cape Town and the region and will enable growth of air traffic, for passenger influx and cargo, as it relates to runway movements which will in turn stimulate tourism and economic activity."

In 2016 Wesgro officially launched Cape Town Air Access - aimed at international air route development in the Western Cape, a collaboration between the Western Cape Provincial Government, the City of Cape Town, Airports Company South Africa (Acsa), Cape Town Tourism, Wesgro and the private sector. 

In 2016 route connectivity and development had a big impact on SA's overall 5.4% increase in passenger arrivals, with no fewer than 20 new routes, flight schedule increase and passenger capacity increases made by airlines servicing the country - here are some of the highlights.  

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