king shaka ready for cup

THE King Shaka Airport is 99percent ready for the 2010 Fifa Soccer World Cup, the Airports Company of South Africa said yesterday.

The company said this after the biggest trial run conducted at the airport this year.

More than 650 people took part in trial runs to test the entire airport facility which is situated in La Mercy, north of Durban.

Local religious leaders also took turns blessing the facility before its opening to the general public.

Ferried by 14 buses, the passengers, mostly students from the Durban University of Technology, moved around the airport with their plane tickets in hand simulating how the passengers would be moved from the check-in point to the boarding zone and the other way round.

Construction of the airport started in September 2007 at a cost of R7,2billion.

Acsa told journalists that more than 160000 jobs were created through the construction of the stadium.

The new airport will be officially be opened on May 1 after the last flight takes off from the old Durban International Airport on April 31.

The old airport has been operating in the coastal city for over 55 years.

Six weeks after the opening, the airport will have to deal with visitors for the Fifa World Cup.

Colin Naidoo, communications manager at the airport said the trials were a huge success. "Since January we have been running trials twice a week and today is the culmination of all the hard work that's been done," he said.

He said this was the first airport to have an Agri-Zone allowing the growing of vegetables and flowers for export.

The new airport will be able to process 7,5 million passengers a year, compared to the 4,4million passengers of the old one. It also has longer runway of 3,7km.

"We could only expand the capacity of the old airport to only 2015 but with the new one it can be expanded till 2060 for 45million passengers a year," said Naidoo.

What is left now is to Link the public transport system to the airport and is this will be done by the Ethekwini municipality.