from FUTHI MBHELE in Durban
DURBAN – THE reopening of the Richards Bay Airport is poised to promote the tourism industry in the city and the entire KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) province.
The facility had been closed for almost two years due to coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Airlink has capitalised on the reopening and is the first airline to ply the airport.
It is offering two daily flights, servicing the Johannesburg – Richards Bay route.
“The reinstatement of daily flights follows the securing of necessary resources to accommodate scheduled airline services after an enforced 20-month break,” said UMhlathuze mayor, Xolani Ngwezi.
The mayor said the reopening of the airport gave him an absolute pleasure and sense of joy to celebrate this milestone pointing out the re-opening revived the dysfunctional airport, which was shut for close to two years now.
He said the commencement of flights in Richards Bay would be of positive value in growing business in the city.
“We have been working endlessly to refurbish the recently renovated airport,” Ngwezi said.
“We can now warmly welcome all travellers, including business and leisure ones,” he added.
The reopening followed a rigorous process.
It involved getting back the correct licence for commercial flights, described by the mayor as a tedious and lengthy process of continuous auditing and compliance checks by the Civil Aviation Authority.
“However, in the end, and with the assistance of ACSA and the persistence of Airlink as one of our strategic partners, we made it to this important day,” he said.
ACSA is the Airports Company South Africa.
Ngwezi lauded the role played by ACSA.
“They (ACSA) held our hand and have not yet let go until the airport meets not just the minimum standards but also assists in ensuring the airport thrives and is viable as economic infrastructure,” Ngwezi said.
The mayor is hopeful more airlines will ply the route to Richards Bay.
“The goal is to end up with flights travelling from here in Richards Bay to various important destinations such as Cape Town and East London to mention just the few,” Ngwezi said.
– CAJ News