Warming up for the 2010 FIFA World Cup

Posted: 11 September 2006 | Monhla Hlahla, Managing Director, Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) | No comments yet

All eyes will be on South Africa in 2010 when the FIFA World Cup is staged on the African continent for the first time in its history. With doubts raised that the country’s infrastructure will cope, ACSA have initiated a R5.2 billion upgrade programme to ensure that when the spotlight is on, the air transport system runs smoothly.

All eyes will be on South Africa in 2010 when the FIFA World Cup is staged on the African continent for the first time in its history. With doubts raised that the country’s infrastructure will cope, ACSA have initiated a R5.2 billion upgrade programme to ensure that when the spotlight is on, the air transport system runs smoothly.

The 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup tournament presents South Africa with an unprecedented opportunity to show to a world-wide audience of hundreds of millions the country’s sophisticated infrastructure and efficient institutions. As host countries have experienced with previous tournaments, a football world cup is far more than a sport competition; it is an international event with far-reaching and multiple socio-economic effects on the host country.

It is estimated that 190,000 overseas visitors will travel to South Africa as spectators during the tournament itself. In addition, there will be 32 teams with an average entourage of 50 people per team, 10,500 international media, 5000 international VIPs and 500 FIFA officials. All of these people will use our airports at least twice (on arrival and departure) and possibly more as they travel around the country to the different match venues.

However, South Africa is anticipating not only greater numbers of tourists before and during the World Cup, but greater passenger and freight volumes generally.

ACSA is well aware that even without the World Cup, our airports would be under pressure to deal with growth in South Africa’s $339 billion economy, the largest in Africa. This growth accelerated to 4.9 per cent last year, the highest in 21 years, from 4.5 per cent in 2004. Growth helped boost passenger traffic at our airports more than 11 per cent to 14.8 million people in the 2006 fiscal year.

As the company that manages South Africa’s major airports, ACSA’s mandate is to enable smooth and effective air transportation within and to and from South Africa. With air transportation playing an increasingly important role in our economy, it’s imperative that ACSA performs at levels of efficiency that promote economic development.

So, prior to South Africa winning the rights to host the 2010 World Cup, ACSA had already embarked on a major infrastructural upgrade programme that would cost in the region of R5.2 billion. It wasn’t that ACSA’s management was clairvoyant, it was really a case of preparing ACSA for a future with significant increases in passenger and freight volumes. Once we had won the bid, ACSA was able to bring the roll out of the upgrade forward. Importantly, these fast-track plans are moving along as anticipated.


The amount of R5.2 billion excludes the construction of a totally new international airport at La Mercy in Durban to replace the present Durban International Airport (DIA). DIA is already almost bursting at the seams and with passenger growth rates of 14 per cent, would, without intervention, be in a state of permanent passenger gridlock by 2012. The World Cup requires us to bring forward our plans for the construction of the new R3 billion airport. Originally pencilled in for opening in 2012, construction of the new airport is scheduled for completion by December 2009.

DIA will de-commission in the first quarter of 2010, with the new airport commissioned in time for the 2010 World Cup.


Another major project that is being fast tracked is the new Central Terminal Building at Johannesburg International Airport (JIA). Originally scheduled for completion only in 2011, this was brought forward to 2009 once South Africa won the World Cup bid. All indications are that this deadline will be met – in fact, the new terminal could be ready by the end of 2008.

The new Central Terminal Building will cost around R1.5 billion. When combined with a project to reconfigure the international arrivals areas at JIA, the spend on increased passenger convenience, comfort and ease-of-movement, will rise to around R1.9 billion. This new arrivals area will also include four new 90-metre carousels to accommodate the passenger loads of the new A380 aircraft, which will be able to carry between 550 and 800 passengers.

JIA is the only designated airport in Africa that will be able to accommodate these giants of the sky. Fortunately, our existing runways and taxiways are long enough and wide enough to accommodate them, but two inter-related infrastructure projects are underway without which JIA could not accommodate the A380s. These are the Echo Apron and the Northern Pier projects, which are scheduled for completion by 2008 at a cost of some R743 million. The Northern Pier will be partially opened to the public by early 2007 and fully by the end 2007, comfortably in time for the anticipated first test-flights of the A380s.

The Echo Apron will provide additional space for aircraft on the apron, while the Northern Pier will provide additional air-bridges, boarding gates and holding lounges for international passengers.

Another major project at JIA is the building of a second multi-storey parkade. Bulk excavations have started for this facility, which will have 5247 parking bays, and the building is scheduled for completion towards the end of 2008.

The new Central Terminal Building at JIA will also serve as the “station” for the new Gautrain Rapid Rail Link. This rapid rail system will transport passengers between JIA and the heart of the Sandton business and hotel district, which will serve as the hub for commuters using the Gautrain to travel to and from the Pretoria and Johannesburg central business districts.

Cape Town

Major infrastructure upgrades at Cape Town International Airport include a fantastic new centralised terminal building, capable of comfortably handling 15 million passengers annually. The cost of this upgrade is around R938 million and it will be completed in the second half of 2009. Another multi-storey parkade will provide a further 2150 parking bays by 2008.

National airports

As far as the other ACSA airports are concerned, a R33 million upgrade has started at George Airport, R27 million is to be spent at East London airport and around R17.6 million at Bloemfontein.


It’s important to note that the full R5.2 billion expenditure is not earmarked only for physical infrastructure improvements. ACSA recently completed an Information Technology (IT) strategic planning cycle, taking into consideration the 2010 World Cup. As a result, some R150 million is to be spent over the next three to four years on various strategic IT projects, as part of ACSA’s overall business strategy and alignment for the event.

IT projects range from baseline and new Information Technology front-end and back-end systems and infrastructure, to high-tech services such as flight display and check-in systems that include: self-service kiosks; RFID solutions for passengers, baggage and security; biometrics; and wireless mobile connectivity systems.


Security is an area of considerable concern to ACSA – as it is to airport operators around the world. It’s an area in which airports cannot and do not act alone. One crime, which is an ongoing problem at all airports, is baggage pilferage.

One project that was completed in March 2006 and which is already having an impact on reducing pilferage, including baggage pilferage, is a new Staff Processing Facility. Built at a cost of R25 million, it ensures all airside personnel – from ramp handlers to cleaners, to catering, technical and other personnel – can no longer take any items of a personal nature, such as bags, into the areas in which they work. They are also screened before they report to their workplace and when they return to the facility to collect their personal belongings before knocking off.

The security control room at JIA has also been upgraded. Areas such as baggage make-up, passenger screening, immigration and customs, and the perimeter gates are all monitored from this room.

A new process to improve access control into restricted areas is also being implemented. This includes new colour coded permits and even the use of biometric technology.

Once these measures have proved their worth, they will be rolled out to the other ACSA airports.

Also aiding security at JIA is the completion of a new upgraded perimeter fence. This isn’t just any fence: it was constructed in consultation with the South African Police Services to specifications that exceed those stipulated by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). The SAPS, the SANDF and other security organisations also assisted with the specifications of all the perimeter gates that allow for access through the perimeter fence.

Hand-in-hand with improved security at our airports must go higher levels of customer service. Visitors to our airports don’t only want to feel safe, they want to feel welcome and respected, and to move through the system as quickly and effortlessly as possible.

Service standards

Improving service levels is a key focus area for ACSA. In line with international standards, ACSA is now monitoring Passenger Perceptions, as well as actual operational and commercial performance, through quantitative measures.

Passenger Perception Surveys are undertaken four times a year in peak operational periods. This allows ACSA to focus on what passengers require and perceive to be challenges. With this better understanding of what passengers require, ACSA can respond to their needs more effectively.

A Quality Management System that measures actual operational and commercial performance sets the perceptions against reality in many respects. It measures the actual processing times that passengers experience. This includes, for example, queuing times and processing times at check-in, security and boarding gates. There are internationally set benchmarks for each of these that have to be achieved. Having measured results allows the aviation community at our airports as a whole – not just ACSA – to provide a better service.

In fact, both these initiatives have shown up one vital aspect of the aviation industry in South Africa: as is the case with security, ACSA cannot do it alone. Delivery of better security – and better service – depends on all the stakeholders involved. As a result, ACSA is in the process of setting up Service Level Agreements with a host of entities and government departments that affect service delivery at our airports

The participation in and delivery on these service levels will be the building blocks on providing true world class aviation facilities leading up to 2010 and beyond.

These Service Standards Programmes have been successful in that some airlines have approached ACSA to conduct syndicated research and use our already implemented programmes to enhance their efficiency levels. This can be done through having access to such programmes.

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