Cape Town International Airport is set to get a second runway as part of a R2-billion upgrade to handle millions more passengers.
The airport, the second largest in the country, with 4,65 million passengers moving through its terminals in 2000, is being expanded to accommodate an expected 12 million passengers by 2015.
Airports Company of South Africa spokesperson Linda Ndlumbini said the new runway would be completed by then.
"The process will include public participation and full-fledged environmental impact assessments," Ndlumbini said.
December had shown an increase in passenger numbers on the previous year.
The company had considered various options for expansion and settled for an "open V-plan" additional runway, meaning the two runways are not quite parallel.
Brian Watkyns, City of Cape Town executive committee member for planning and the environment, said one of the reasons the Open V option was preferred was that it would have the smallest noise impact.
"The noise factor has been taken seriously at other international airports; in Geneva, buildings are prohibited within a certain radius of the airport.
"But we will have to balance the noise issue with the city's responsibility to promote economic development and tourism. It's very important that any development plan makes it possible for the economic potential of the land at the airport to be unlocked for the benefit of surrounding communities and the Western Cape economy as a whole."
Watkyns said studies had shown the number of flights in and out of the airport would soar in the next decade or so.
"But the (city) council will consider a final recommendation by the airports company only once a permanent noise monitoring and flight tracking system is in place. "
Watkyns said an extensive public participation process would be started early next year to address community worries about the expansion.
"People living in the area have already expressed concerns about economic opportunities, safety, noise and community involvement in the expansion of the airport.
"After noting the contents of a recent report prepared by the airports company, the council has agreed to support the second stage of the investigation, which will deal with all the proposals in more detail and include the public participation process," Watkyns said.
Meanwhile, Cape Town is set to attract a record number of foreign tourists over the next couple of months and already top city hotels are fully booked until the end of March.
The season for international tourists peaks in February.