Durban - More than four million passengers have passed through King Shaka International Airport since it opened last year and passenger growth is expected to rise by 7.5% this year, KwaZulu-Natal tourism MEC Michael Mabuyakhulu said on Friday.
Mabuyakhulu said that since the airport was opened in May last year, it has positioned the province on the global tourism map.
“The cargo terminal had handled more than 6 300 tonnes of cargo up to the end of February 2011, of which 4 550 tonnes were imports valued in excess of R180m and 1 750 tonnes were exports valued at approximately R60m,” said Mabuyakhulu , delivering his budget for the current 2011/2012 financial year.
King Shaka International Airport falls under the Dube Trade Port (DTP), a public entity of the department of economic development and tourism.
The DTP comprises the airport, the trade zone, cyber port and a cargo handling facility.
”Regarding the domestic tonnage, more than 8 000 tonnes were handled. In addition, the cargo terminal received its first full 747 Boeing freighter in September 2009 carrying 100 tonnes of special equipment for ship repair destined for the port of Durban,” he said.
The trade zone's warehouse facility is also fully operational and for the first time houses the local airfreight logistics industry under one roof.
The overhead conveyor system, one of few such facilities globally, will be commissioned in April 2011.
This would ensure that DTP stayed at the leading edge of cargo security and would greatly improve cargo movement between the terminal and the Trade House, Mabuyakhulu said.
In May this year, World Freight Services, the cargo terminal operator, and DTP will launch a trucking service which will widen DTP's catchment area nationally.
“Air cargo road feeder services will be started on the Johannesburg-Durban route and will then be expanded to include other airports in South Africa.
"DTP will also open a 20-foot container handling facility at the terminal in July,” he said.
While the airport had performed exceptionally since it was opened, the biggest challenge facing it was to increase regional and international air connectivity.
”On the international front we will continue to engage with the carriers in Europe and the UK, India, Southeast Asia and the Middle East. We are also happy to announce that Emirates Airlines will be introducing a double daily service to King Shaka International in October this year."
Mabuyakhulu said this would mean a flight in the morning and a flight in the afternoon.