A look at the massive R4.5 billion upgrade for O.R Tambo Airport

News > Lifestyle & Architecture - 13 Feb 2019

A massive seven phase upgrade is in the works for the western precinct of the O.R Tambo International Airport. The first phase of this R4.5 billion project has recently been unveiled.

It has been reported that the first phase would comprise three six-storey office buildings which will be built on a podium, providing a total of 30 000m² of office space. 

Bongiwe Pityi-Vokwana, the airport’s general manager, said construction would take place on a site that was previously a shaded carport parking area. Adding that construction would start this month and completion is expected by the end of next year.

Two of the buildings would be used to as the new head office of the Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) - currently based in Bedfordview - and the SA Civil Aviation Authority, currently in Midrand.

The third building would be available to rent and would boast facilities such as a fitness centre, canteen, and a creche. 

Northern roads near the precinct will also undergo an upgrade, while the office complex would also provide almost 2000 parking bays. 

“Today marks an important milestone in the transformative journey of OR Tambo International Airport as we turn it into an aero city and unlock the development potential of the western precinct,” she said.

“The western precinct development forms part of a strategy to expand our offering and drive new sources of growth for the entire region.”

Pityi-Vokwana said the other six phases on the 8.5 hectare development site with 180 000m² of bulk for mixed-use development would conceptually include a retail offering with a possibility of a hotel and conference facilities. The development of these phases would be tenant demand driven.

More development plans also include the building of a new cargo terminal in two phases at an estimated cost of about R4.4bn that would double the cargo throughput of the terminal to 2 million tons a year.

She said the airport’s Midfield Cargo Terminal, with a total of 450 000m², was extremely constrained and the facility locked between the R21 freeway and the runway, which prevented its expansion.

She said they wanted to have the new cargo terminal facilities ready by 2023 and could possibly commence with construction of this terminal late next year.

Pityi-Vokwana added that the current precinct where the airport was located had an ultimate processing capacity of 28 million passengers a year, but they were planning to build a new passenger terminal in the next eight to 10 years.

The mixed-use development will consist of a variety of buildings which are framed in such a way as to form a boulevard at the international departures level, where a variety of retail commercial and ancillary buildings each open onto a vibrant energetic ‘street’ environment serviced by lively restaurants, corner cafes, and bars.

It will also improve the airport’s connectivity from the Gautrain station and to existing hotels and facilities via pedestrian-friendly connections to the international terminal building.

She said the first phase of that terminal would see them building a new terminal building the size of Cape Town International Airport that would be able to process between 10 to 15 million passengers a year and have parking for 40 aircraft.

“In 2018, the airport contributed no less than R5.6bn to the South African economy. We supported 5 480 jobs and also supported R940 million of income to workers.

“Given this contribution, can you imagine how significant our contribution will be once we embark on this huge infrastructure build programme,” she said.

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