OR Tambo International Airport’s birthday

OR Tambo International Airport’s birthday
Gautrain..., O R Tambo Intl Airport South Africa. Pic Credit: Nithin bolar k

Airports Company South African (ACSA) is pleased to announce that Africa’s biggest and busiest aviation hub – OR Tambo International Airport – is today celebrating its birthday, marking a major milestone not only for the airport itself, but also for South Africa as a country.

The airport was founded in 1952, in Kempton Park, Gauteng, and was initially named Jan Smuts International Airport. It was rebranded as Johannesburg International Airport in 1994, following the dawn of democracy in South Africa. It was again renamed in 2006, after ANC stalwart Oliver Reginald Tambo – an anti-apartheid politician and former ANC president.

Today, it serves as the primary airport for domestic and international travel to and from South Africa, handling more than 21 million passengers movements annually. It is one of only four airports in the world that flies scheduled non-stop services to all six inhabited continents, the others being Abu-Dhabi, Doha and Dubai.

Interestingly, due to the airport being situated at an altitude of 1 700m above sea level, its two runways are longer than those at most other airports around the world. This is due to the fact that the air is more rarefied at this altitude, providing less air friction to assist deceleration on approach and landing and less lift on take-off.

“OR Tambo International Airport services airlines from all five continents and plays a vital role in serving the local, regional, intra- and intercontinental air transport needs of South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa,” says ACSA spokesperson Gopolang Peme.

“This auspicious anniversary falls within Transport Month, allowing us to reflect on the tremendous contribution that the airport makes to South Africa’s economic growth and development.”

She notes that OR Tambo International Airport currently contributes R2.7 billion to the country’s gross domestic product, employs about 6 200 people and has an income contribution of R849 billion a year.

“The airport plays a leading role not only within the South African economic context, but also as a gateway to the African continent. Its key role as a mega hub that connects airline destinations – from trade to leisure – makes it one of our country’s most strategic and valuable assets,” says Peme.

“OR Tambo International Airport has come of age, and – through its evolution – has enabled millions of people to reach their full potential. ACSA runs, develops, and grows world class airport infrastructure that creates ample opportunities for millions of travellers who fly across the world to see new destinations, find new business opportunities and connect with loved ones.”

Mpofu points out that the airport plays a central role in South Africa’s aviation sector, which is a major contributor employment and economic growth in the country. Market data shows that airlines, airport operators, airport on-site enterprises, aircraft manufacturers and air navigation service providers employ 70 000 people in South Africa.

“To mark this considerable milestone, we will be hosting an employee event at the airport today, with a number of stakeholders, dignitaries and government officials in attendance to help us mark the many years of key contributions that this aviation hub has made to our country,” he concludes.