Emerging from a period of radical but sustained transformation, the Airport Company South Africa (ACSA) plays a major functional role in the air traffic of South Africa. Managing three international airports that act as a fundamental port of call for international flights from all four corners of the planet.
South Africa is one of the busiest flying countries in Africa and O.R Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg is the biggest and busiest airport on the continent. As such, it carries all the hallmarks of a world-class airport business, from location through to accessibility and connectivity. Ideally situated in the heart of Ekurhuleni Municipality, in the middle of the city’s industrial hub, the airport boasts excellent road infrastructure linking it to the national road network.
We spoke with General Manager Bongiwe Pityi, about the task she has on her hands in terms of managing an airport that services airlines from five continents and plays a vital role in serving the local and regional air transport needs of South Africans, as well as international travellers. (Full interview here.)
“As general manager of Africa’s busiest airport, my leadership role is to effectively drive efficient operations and to strategically engage all key stakeholders within the airport community. This includes various levels of government. Finally, I have to position this airport through business and route development opportunities as a key aviation hub that is focused on connectivity both locally, regionally and even internationally.”
This is no small undertaking. Facilitating the movement of 21million passengers and 650,000 tonnes of cargo a year is a task that has to be taken seriously, as well as the various businesses relying on the airport. According to Pityi, there are 50 airlines that operate out of O.R Tambo, which means a staggering number of different cultures, races, languages and attitudes. For many people, flying is the most stressful part of any journey and OR Tambo has taken a direct approach to alleviating some of that strain.
“We have implemented a variety of airport ambiance initiatives to improve the passenger experience,” she explains, “ These include the silent airport movement, smart security and engagements with the department of home affairs on increasing staffing levels at immigration and passport control.”
The airport also boasts a significant retail footprint that cuts across the spectrum from high-end duty-free stores through to African curio shops and a wide range of food and beverage offerings. O.R Tambo International Airport is also home to top-of-the-range hotels that are situated in and around the airport precinct.
From the 1st February 2018, O.R Tambo International Airport is offering travellers greater parking convenience, when the Super South area closes and a new long-term parking area opens just 500m from airport terminals.
Incorporating online booking for travellers has also meant that the fees for using the new long-term parking facility will remain at current levels.
Travellers using the existing long-term parking area currently need to wait for a shuttle bus, which can result in delays due to high traffic volumes on the roads around the airport. The new long-term parking area in the ‘MSP2’ area, near The Commercial Intercontinental Hotel, is just a five-minute walk from Domestic and International terminals.
The long-term parking is ideal for passengers who’ll be away for three days or longer. Travellers can save up to 50% of their total parking fees by booking up to five days in advance through the ‘book Parking online’ link at airports.co.za. Discounts start at 10% for booking one day in advance, 20% for booking two days in advance, all the way up to 50% off for the five-day maximum advance booking period.
Travellers will be able to get a quote for their parking on the website and secure a spot, pending availability, as long as the booking is completed no later than 11pm on the day before entry. Once parking is booked they just need to insert the credit card used to make the booking to gain access and again upon leaving to claim their discount.
“This long-term parking solution within easy reach of the passenger terminals will save travellers significant time and money,” says Leigh Gunkel-Keuler, spokesperson for O.R Tambo International Airport, “The booking option guarantees travellers parking at a discounted rate and significantly reduces the time spent getting to the terminal for their flights.”
Travellers who wish to use the dedicated long-term parking area without advance booking can book on Level-1, but will have to exceed a three-day stay to qualify for long term rates. Once the stay has exceeded three days, the rate will automatically recalculate to long-term rates, the same as one would have paid at Super South.
Discounted booked parking is already available in the MSP2 parking on Level 2, so travellers who book their parking spot online at www.airports.co.za can start making use of the facility immediately. The Super South long-term parking area closed on 1 February 2018.
This marks just another one of the many changes that have taken place over the last number of years to thrust South African airports into the category of being not only the best and busiest in Africa, but potentially in the world as well.