An artist's impression of the first phase of the office complex, which will comprise three six-storey buildings providing a total of 30 000m² of office space. Image: Supplied

PRETORIA – A new R4.5 billion office complex is to be developed in the western precinct of the OR Tambo International Airport in the first of seven phases that will kick-start a massive plan for new cargo and passenger terminals.

Bongiwe Pityi-Vokwana, the airport’s general manager, said yesterday that the first phase would comprise three six-storey office buildings that would be built on a podium and provide a total of 30 000m² of office space.

Pityi-Vokwana said construction would take place on a site that was previously a shade carport parking area. Construction would start this month and would be completed by the end of next year.

She said two of the buildings would house the head office of the Airports Company South Africa (Acsa), which is currently based in Bedfordview, and the SA Civil Aviation Authority, which is in Midrand.

Pityi-Vokwana said the third building would be available for rent and have common facilities that would make the airport more attractive to local communities, such as a fitness centre, canteen and creche.

She said the office complex would also provide almost 2 000 parking bays, while the northern roads near the precinct would be upgraded.

“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.

Pityi-Vokwana said the Western Precinct Consortium, whose ownership profile was 62 percent black-owned, would be responsible for the development.

The consortium members comprise developer HERI Propco, mmqsmace Consultancy and building contractor TiBER Construction.

Pityi-Vokwana said workers would be sourced from the local communities, with up to 1 100 workers on site at the peak of construction of the first phase.

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.

Pityi-Vokwana said a plan was quite advanced to build 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 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.

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.

Pityi-Vokwana said the scale of this western precinct development would provide much needed stimulus into the local and regional economy.

“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.