Johannesburg - Management at Lanseria International Airport said yesterday it planned to spend R100 million on a complete makeover of the airport to take advantage of growth in private corporate aircraft and freight traffic into the rest of Africa.

Work on the upgrade of the airport, which is owned by private investment trusts and managed privately, would start today.

Although Lanseria's passenger flow is not as great as Johannesburg International Airport, Lanseria currently handles more aircraft takeoffs and landings each year than any other general airport in Africa, with more than 70 000 flights a year over the last five years.

Linden Birns, a spokesman for the airport company, said the project would be financed by shareholder funds and then by loan funding if required. The initial phase would kick off with the demolition of the airport's existing car park to make way for the new R40 million passenger terminal. A second terminal had also been included in plans.

The new terminal would include a restaurant with a covered terrace, departure lounges, arrival and departure halls, holding cells, immigration facilities, maintenance workshops and retail space. Construction of a R10 million office building next to the main terminal would also start soon.

Birns said the existing terminal would make way for increased apron parking space which would enable Lanseria to accommodate three 100 to 180 seat jetliners and seven wide body long range business jets. Lanseria had experienced a 30 percent growth over the past year in passenger and aircraft traffic. The growth had been organic as well as from the removal of international airport status from Wonderboom, Grand Central and Rand airports, which had caused traffic to be diverted.

"The upgrade is necessary to accommodate anticipated growth as well as opportunities in attracting scheduled domestic flights," Birns said. But these would have to be independent of connections to various international flights. Nationwide, the independent domestic airline, has Lanseria as its head office and base for its aircraft.

Lanseria Airport manager, Gavin Sayce, told Sapa that from next month, the air traffic control at Lanseria, with its own tower control service and full instrument letdown capability, would be increased to 24 hours a day, allowing for greater use of the airport's facilities.