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SAA conducts successful test flight to ACSA's new King Shaka International Airport

Johannesburg, 29 April 2010

South African Airways (SAA) marked the forthcoming opening of the new King Shaka International Airport, north of Durban, with a special flight from O.R Tambo International Airport today. SA3501, operated with an Airbus A340-600, touched down at King Shaka International at approximately 14h00 with SAA and Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) dignitaries, including members of the media onboard the aircraft.

Today’s test is yet another excellent opportunity for us to prove King Shaka International Airport’s state of readiness. The purpose was to test our airfield infrastructure such as instrument landing systems, communication with air traffic control, passenger loading bridges, aircraft fuelling systems, aircraft push back and start up operations. We are very pleased with the support we received from all our stakeholders in particular SAA,” says ACSA CEO, Ms Monhla Hlahla.

To mark this historic occasion, two SA national Defence Force Oryx helicopters and a SAPS helicopter will accompany the SAA aircraft for the spectacular flypast.

Speaking of operational readiness, ACSA Assistant General Manager Airport Operations, Bongiwe Pityi, who is based at the new site said, “We are very excited to be at this point within this development wherein we are now able to prove our state of readiness by having real aircraft testing the airfield infrastructure.

We are also excited that the pilot in command of the test flight was Captain John Herselman who has worked tirelessly with us and Air Traffic Navigation Services to ensure the new airspace design is not only environmentally conscious but efficient for all airlines.”

Furthermore, the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SA CAA) also attended the event with the Director of Civil Aviation, Mr Colin Jordaan, officially handing over the operating licence for the new airport to the General Manager, Mr Terence Delomoney.

SAA operates 109 return flights per week between Johannesburg and Durban. The airline will begin operating from the new King Shaka International Airport situated in La Mercy, north of Durban, as of Saturday, 1 May 2010 when the airport is official opened for commercial airline activity.

“SAA is ready for the final stages of relocating its entire airport operation from the old Durban International Airport to King Shaka International Airport which will take place overnight on 30 April 2010. The relocation includes SAA’s total staff compliment at Durban International Airport of 250, SAA Technical and SAA Cargo and has to date cost the airline about R35 million”, says Siza Mzimela, SAA CEO.

All SAA operations at Durban International Airport will end after the arrival of airline’s three final flights from Johannesburg, SA585, SA579 and SA581, as well as SA626 from Cape Town to Johannesburg. All four aircrafts will be ferried to the new King Shaka International Airport, and remain overnight for following day’s operation. The final flight to depart the old airport on 30 April is SA582 to Johannesburg.

The first SAA flight to depart from the new King Shaka International airport is SA528 to Johannesburg and departs at 06h30. The flying time between Johannesburg and Durban remains unchanged at approximately 50 minutes.

The new King Shaka International Airport is situated approximately 35 kilometres north of Durban’s city centre and has been a ground breaking cooperative project development that was done between the National Department of Transport, the Provincial Department of Economic Development, the government of Kwa-Zulu Natal, ACSA and the Dube Trade Port. It is also the first Greenfield airport to be built in the past 50 years in South Africa.

The current Durban International Airport will first be handed over to the SA Air Force to use as a military operating base for the 2010 World Cup. It will then be decommissioned as an airport.

Passengers who have left their cars at Durban International and arriving back at the new airport can take the free airport shuttle back to collect their cars.

As a further precautionary measure, SCSA has set up a King Shaka International hotline number 08611 777 11, which aims to deal with customer queries relating to the move.

Jointly issued by SAA and ACSA

For further information contact:

Fani Zulu
SAA Group Corporate Affairs
Direct: +27 11 978 3729
Cell: +27 83 282 6761

Solomon Makgale
ACSA Group Manager Communications
Direct: +27 11 723 1536
Cell: +27 82 781 8863