THE Port Elizabeth International Airport has put plans in place to expand and accommodate 17 million passengers per annum, which will ensure economic growth for the Bay.
The airport currently consists of two cross-runways, west and east of the airport, of which the main runway is used on a daily basis for local and international flights.
The secondary runway is only used 1% of the year, normally around September and later in the year until March.
The airport has plans to install an additional parallel runway near Happy Valley, which will be the front path for this runway.
â€œOnce that has been realised, the airport will be able to have a total capacity of 17 million passengers per annum,â€? said acting manager of the Port Elizabeth International Airport, Anthony Groom.
According to Groom, the airport plans to acquire land north of Allister Miller Drive for further expansion to ensure the realisation of the project.
The planning is well underway and meetings were held with the city to acquire the additional land by 2020 for the expansion.
â€œWe have had a meeting with the Department of Human Settlements and told them that we have plans to pick up this project again.
â€œThey will assist us in the submission to acquire the additional land,â€? Groom added.
Since its upgrade into an international airport in 2004, a master plan has been initiated to attract more traffic into the country.
â€œWe are also known as the â€˜10-minute airportâ€™ because we are 10 minutes away from the CBD, the beach and hotels.
â€œWe donâ€™t want to lose this, as it is very convenient for us, our guests and employees,â€? Groom said.
The master plan, launched in 2009, forms part of the airlift project. The purpose of the proposed project is to enhance air service connectivity between the national getaways and the city of Port Elizabeth and surrounding areas, through the Port Elizabeth International Airport.
â€œOur airport terminal is built for 2 million passengers per annum, but we currently have a number of 1.6 million passengers. Our total capacity for the master plan is 17 million,â€? Groom added.
Airports Company South Africa signed a memorandum of understanding in June this year with the Nelson Mandela Municipality (NMBM) and Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism (NMBT) to enhance air service connectivity between national gateways and the city of Nelson Mandela Bay through the Port Elizabeth International Airport.
Phase one of the project includes the scoping of key new and existing routes at national, regional and intercontinental level to enhance trade and tourism.
Phases two and three involve the analysis and identification of potential markets and airline partners and the implementation of identified route opportunities linking the Port Elizabeth International Airport. â€œOur regional airports are gateways for the growth of domestic tourism,â€? said Airports Company South Africaâ€™s corporate affairs senior manager, Senzeni Ndebele.
â€œAnd we are committed to exploring partnerships that will catalyse economic opportunities and boost job creation around our regional airports,â€? she said.
NMBT CEO, Glenton de Kock, said, â€œStimulating tourism growth for our destination is a key driver of NMBTâ€™s destination marketing mandate.
â€œAs such the memorandum of understanding that we have signed with key role-players to collaborate on improving our airlift capacity for the region will go a long way in improving frequency of flights and influencing airlines flying into our destination, by offering experiences both at business investor level and tourism.â€?
In addition, it has been reported that the Port Elizabeth International Airport makes a significant contribution to the Eastern Capeâ€™s and South Africaâ€™s economies.
The Port Elizabeth International Airport supported 418 jobs in South Africa.
Ndebele said, â€œAirports have always had a significant role to play in enabling regional economic growth.
â€œThey permit connections between cities, which catalyses economic activities through amenities and needs for non-residential passengers in transit, as well as supporting aviation-related services, co-located commercial developments and the provision of infrastructure.â€?