Preparations to welcome hundreds of thousands of fans to South Africa for the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ are at an advanced stage at the country’s main airport – the OR Tambo International Airport.

South Africa’s Minister of Transport, Jeff Radebe, today undertook a site visit to Africa’s busiest airport and said he was very pleased that upgrading of the airport in preparation for the influx of 2010 FIFA World Cup visitors is proceeding extremely well.

Among those on the site visit was the Chief Executive Officer of the 2010 FIFA World Cup Organising Committee South Africa Dr Danny Jordaan and the Operations Director at Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) Bongani Maseko, with the group noting that significant headway had been made to prepare the airport for the influx of an anticipated 500 000 tourists and soccer fanatics in 2010.  

“It is pleasing to note that the construction of the Central Terminal Building has already reached the 70 percent completion phase, despite it being perhaps the largest single project ACSA has ever embarked upon,” Radebe said on the site visit, which coincided with the national launch of ‘Transport Month’ during October.

“The OR Tambo International Airport is a shining example of our accelerated preparation for the FIFA World Cup. ACSA has continuously drawn up plans which will enable South Africa’s airports to handle the mega influx of air traffic, passengers and airfreight not only for the 2010 event, but also for the projected growth of traffic in years to come in line with our overall economic growth and development projections,” said Radebe.

Over nine million tourists visited South Africa in 2007, with tourism authorities projecting that 10 million annual tourists will visit the country by 2010.

When the upgrade of OR Tambo International Airport is completed, the airport will be able to cater for 24 million annual passenger arrivals and departures and will be one of the world’s leading and most modern airports.

Radebe said the transport month activities will be used to test transport systems in the host cities and evaluate the progress of 2010-related transport projects.

"Overall, I was very impressed with the progress at OR Tambo International Airport. The first impression of any of our visitors in 2010, be it the players, FIFA, the media or supporters, will be their arrival at the country's international airport. And I am sure OR Tambo will make a very good first impression and will be one of the best airports in the world, comfortably accommodating the expected arrivals for the FIFA Confederations Cup 2009 and the 2010 FIFA World Cup," said Dr Jordaan.

Maseko today unveiled the airport’s state-of-the-art central command centre, which will act as a nerve centre during the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

“The area here will host air traffic navigation services, the ground handlers, government agencies, customs, Home Affairs; the National Intelligence Agency, the South African Police Service and everybody else who is involved in processing passengers. What the centre is really meant to do is improve the efficiency of passengers coming in and out and to reduce the impact of delays,” said Maseko.

Radebe also lauded the construction progress of the Gautrain Rail Link Project, which while not necessarily part of the transport plans for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, will revolutionise South Africa’s long-term transport situation.

The Gautrain is a high-speed rail network that will link OR Tambo International Airport with Johannesburg and the country’s capital Pretoria/Tshwane, with the group today seeing impressive progress on the Gautrain station which will be located at the OR Tambo International Airport’s Central Terminal Building. 

The R2.2-billion Central Terminal Building will add to the OR Tambo International Airport:
• 110 000 square meters of new terminal space on 5 levels
• a 40 000 square meter upgraded single international arrival area
• 75 new check-in counters
• 44 transfer desks
• 24 international to domestic recheck counters
• 48 passport control counters
• 2 new domestic baggage carousels, and
• 10 new international baggage carousels