Airport needs cash to be ready for 2010

PRIMKOP Airport Management, the company that owns the Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport, says it is struggling with funding to prepare for the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

Marius Nel, director of the company, said they were working hard to get the airport ready for the tournament.

"We have applied to both the national and provincial governments for assistance in capacity expansions, but to no avail. Government departments refused to invest in us because we are a privately owned airport," Nel said.

"We believe this will cause bottlenecks at our airport, which we will try to manage to the best of our ability," he said.

Nel said this was not good for Mpumalanga as a host city.

"We have informed the airlines that will be landing at the airport that we will only operate as a drop-and-go facility," he said.

He said the airport could handle about six to eight aircraft in good weather and four in poor weather conditions.

Nel said the airport would put up tents to extend terminals to accommodate the large number of passengers expected.

"We have hired 35 more people to enable us to work 24 hours a day during the tournament," Nel said.

The upgrading and hiring of new staff will cost about R3million.

But Shirley Mahanyele, acting chief executive of Polokwane International Airport, said the facility would be ready for the World Cup passenger volumes by the end of April.

The airport is owned by the Limpopo government.

"We have upgraded our hangar into a domestic terminal, which is about 45percent complete," she said.

"We have upgraded our apron and its marking for the planes ," Mahanyele said.

She said the airport had procured two fire trucks for any emergencies during the tournament. She refused to say how much was spent on the upgrades.

Mahanyele said the airport, which had also converted its old terminal into a car rental building, was expected to handle about 300 World Cup fans an hour.

Mike Christoph, the operational manager at Lanseria Airport in Johannesburg, which caters for charter and business trips, said: "Our slots are 30percent booked and a fuel line is under construction."

He said the parking area had been increased by 650 to about 3000 parking bays.

"We plan to handle 700 passengers an hour for 16 hours a day for the duration of the tournament," he said.