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The planned R2,5-billion airport at La Mercy, north of Durban, is expected to create about 14 000 jobs.
The airport, construction of which is expected to begin early next year, will be built by the Airports Company South Africa (Acsa), a government subsidiary, and will form part of the proposed Dube Tradeport industrial development zone.
Dube Tradeport is a company owned by the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government. The cash injection for the airport's construction by the national government was announced by Transport Minister Jeff Radebe this week.
"Dube Tradeport Company will own, manage and develop the tradeport (import and export), the agrizones (zone of export of perishables) and the cargo handling terminals," said Radebe.
In terms of the deal struck, Acsa will build, operate and own the new airport and passenger terminals, while Dube Tradeport will develop the adjacent trade zone, including cargo handling terminals, processing and light manufacturing.
Rohan Persad, Chief Executive of Dube Tradeport, said 3 000 jobs would be created during the construction phases and 11 000 sustainable jobs would be created over five to eight years.
The government expected the new airport to be ready by December 2009 and operational by the first quarter of 2010, in time for the Soccer World Cup.
Up until now, the proposed airport, which was first mooted many years ago, has been called King Shaka International Airport. But eThekwini City Manager Michael Sutcliffe said the naming process had not yet begun.
"No one can yet say for sure what its name will be," he said.
During a government and business breakfast on Friday, KwaZulu-Natal Premier S'bu Ndebele said four construction companies had responded to the building tender that went out in February.
Two major consortiums - Ilembe, led by Group Five Civils, and Imbiza, led by Grinaker LTA - were shortlisted for the job and were both vying for the contract, which included the design, construction and maintenance plan.
"We expect the bids back by September 27 and then we will go through adjudication and the preferred bidder will be announced in November," said Owen Mungwe, Chief Financial officer of the Dube Tradeport.
Ndebele said that because the national government would be funding the project, this would free the province to channel funds to other developments.
He urged the business community to "come to the party" in what he described as "exciting times" for KwaZulu-Natal.
The tradeport will stretch over 2 040ha to the north of Durban, linked with the ports of Durban and Richards Bay by the N2 freeway, with a dual line rail link running alongside the development.
Mungwe said the scoping report - which involved the Environmental Impact Assessment - had been released and the public had six weeks to comment.
"By 2010, we will have one runway and a passenger terminal that will accommodate 7,5 million passengers a year," he said.
The airport's 3 700m runway would be big enough to land larger aircraft, including the Airbus A380. The private sector, said Mungwe, was already showing interest in the development.
"We will start to market the investment opportunities and there has already been interest from businesses, but because there was no written agreement, we couldn't negotiate on anything. But now those issues have been ironed out," he said.