Oppenheimers win battle against Gigaba on private terminal at OR Tambo

The Oppenheimers have won their court battle to operate a private international terminal at OR Tambo International Airport after accusing Minister Malusi Gigaba of reversing his approval.

In a judgment passed on Friday‚ the High Court in Pretoria declared that Gigaba had on January 28 last year granted Fireblade’s application. Gigaba was Minister of Home Affairs at the time and has since been moved to the finance portfolio.

A few days after January 28‚ Gigaba reversed his decision.

The application by Fireblade was for an international customs and immigration service component of the fixed base aviation operation (FBO) to be conducted by officials of the Border Control Operational Coordinating Committee.

Judge Sulet Potterill said the common cause facts reflected that the concept of establishing an FBO was already floated in 2011.

She said it had had the support of the Airports Company South Africa‚ the OR Tambo International Airport‚ and the home affairs department.

“It required (Fireblade) to adhere to many regulatory hoops from various departments and institutions.”

She said it was an expensive four-year exercise to establish this seven-star facility.

“For the FBO to fully function for international flights an essential component was a customs and immigration facility at the FBO.

She said the last step of the process was the approval by Gigaba.

“Fireblade avers that on the meeting of the 28th of January 2016 the Minister informed all present that he had already signed the approval of the Fireblade application.

“The Minister denies that he on the 28th January 2016 informed all present that the Fireblade application was signed as approved.”

Potterill said FBOs cater for VVIPs and are very common within the international aviation industry.

“It is highly unusual in Europe for a private aircraft to use an airport facility other than an FBO. There are over 5‚000 FBOs in the USA. FBOs alleviate the pressure on the facilities of an airport‚ with the airport then free to focus on commercial airlines‚” Potterill said.


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