Award-winning King Shaka International Airport celebrates 14 years

King Shaka International Airport. Picture: KSIA Facebook page

King Shaka International Airport. Picture: KSIA Facebook page

Published May 5, 2024


Durban — The King Shaka International Airport (KSIA) is celebrating 14 years of transformative impact on South Africa.

On May 1, the Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) marked the 14th anniversary of the KSIA, which is owned and managed by ACSA.

The KSIA has been central to the movement of people and goods in the region of KwaZulu-Natal since its inception on May 1, 2010, acting as a major catalyst for investment and development for the province and the country.

KSIA regional general manager Nkosinathi Myataza said: “Over the past 14 years, KSIA has grown from a newly constructed facility to a key player in our economic landscape, facilitating extensive connections within and beyond South Africa.

“Our completion of this R6.8 billion project within 36 months set a precedent for efficient project execution.”

He said transitioning from the old Durban International Airport to KSIA had been remarkably smooth, reflecting careful planning and valuable lessons learnt from similar projects in Europe.

“The airport was operational just in time for the 2010 Fifa World Cup, successfully managing the significant influx of visitors, which was a major test of our new facilities,” Myataza said.

Following the World Cup, KSIA established itself as a gateway for tourism and business, significantly impacting the KwaZulu-Natal region. Despite fluctuations in passenger volumes due to global economic conditions, KSIA continuously explored initiatives to enhance its appeal and operational efficiency.

“We’ve not only focused on increasing traffic but also on positioning King Shaka as a destination in its own right, improving facilities and infrastructure to enhance the travel experience,” Myataza said.

The expertise gained was leveraged as a revenue driver by helping other airports in other countries, such as Kenneth Kaunda International Airport, Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport in Zambia and Kotoka International Airport in Ghana.

Locally, this was done at the Pietermaritzburg Airport, Richards Bay Airport, Margate Airport, Mkhuze Airport, Newcastle International Airport and Wonderboom Airport, to either provide advisory services or construct and operationalise their airports.

This became known as ACSA’s Operational Readiness and Transfer Programme, which was successfully marketed to other parts of the continent.

Myataza said KSIA processed more than 4.9 million passengers in the financial year 2023/2024, compared to 6.09 million in 2019/2020. The airport recovered 82% of its pre-pandemic passenger levels compared to 2019/20, with a 72.1% international recovery and an 82.5% domestic recovery.

They continued to operate in a challenging environment, not only shaped by the Covid-19 pandemic but also by the recent natural and socio-political disruptions that have affected the province. Despite these hurdles, KSIA maintained its status as a leading regional airport in Africa.

Their recovery remained volatile and had not reached the peaks of ACSA’s two other main international airports – OR Tambo International and Cape Town – which have reached and even exceeded pre-Covid-19 traffic volumes, due to their recovery being influenced by various external factors.

For example, Myataza said their recovery was stunted by the demise of several low-cost airlines that folded due to the pandemic, and the fact that Durban was largely a tourist and cost-sensitive destination. Therefore, their passenger volumes were sensitive to various external factors, such as the state of their beaches, levels of crime and natural disasters. What impacted the city impacted their airport.

“Fostering stakeholder relationships is crucially important for King Shaka, as no element within this complex ecosystem can function on its own. We are therefore actively involved with initiatives such as Durban Direct, a multi-entity and departmental committee dedicated to driving the co-ordination and promotion of air services at King Shaka International Airport.

“Similarly, we also work closely with the various business chambers and associations to ensure that our interests are aligned and mutually beneficial,” Myataza said.

In the future, ACSA planned to invest R21.7 billion in developing airport infrastructure across its network over the next five years.

“This investment will focus on refurbishments, efficiency improvements, and statutory compliance measures, aiming to enhance asset availability, airport safety, and passenger experiences,” Myataza said.

The development of the Durban Aerotropolis is a strategic focus, poised to transform the area around KSIA into a major manufacturing, trade, and logistics hub.

“This project aligns with broader strategies to stimulate economic growth and infrastructure development across Southern Africa,” Myataza said.

Additionally, other initiatives they were pursuing to strengthen the airport’s economic impact included intermodal integration, ensuring that travellers could seamlessly transition from one mode of transport to another, enabling access to and from the airport via public transport that was organised and formalised.

By influencing and enabling the last mile of connectivity between air travel and road transport, they could ensure that more South Africans could fly at affordable rates. Therefore, they were exploring partnerships and collaborations to ensure that they established complementary transport services that would positively impact the economic development of the region.

Myataza said their airport’s many milestones were underscored by the numerous local, regional, and international accolades they scooped along the way. They also prided themselves on delivering the best service. King Shaka International Airport had won the KZN Top Business Portfolio Award for four years between 2011 and 2014.

The airport also won the Aviation Safety Award and the Aviation Sustainability and Environment Award at the Civil Aviation Industry Awards in 2019 and in the same year won the KZN Top Business Portfolio Award in the Transport, Storage and Communication category.

KSIA airport also took the ACI Best Airport Award and the ACI Safety Award in 2019.

The airport won the Skytrax Best Airport Staff in Africa award in 2017 and 2019 and was runner-up in this category in 2021.

Recently, KSIA was recognised by Skytrax as the 2024 Best Regional Airport in Africa, an award claimed in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. In 2021, the airport ranked second in the category.

Myataza said this was a testament to the commitment and contribution of their exceptional staff and stakeholders towards portraying their ACSA PRIDE values, which stood for Passion, Results, Integrity, Diversity and Excellence.

He said none of the achievements would have been possible without the hard work and dedication of their staff, who had shown determination, grit and resilience when called upon. Their employees were the backbone of their operation, and they wanted to thank each of them for their unwavering commitment and professionalism. Their efforts had not gone unnoticed and unwavering dedication pushed them to proud milestones.

“As we mark the 14th anniversary of King Shaka International Airport, it remains committed to promoting inclusive growth that boosts the economy, creates jobs, and empowers the people of South Africa,” Myataza said.

WhatsApp your views on this story at 071 485 7995.

Daily News

King Shaka International Airport.
King Shaka International Airport. | File
King Shaka International Airport.

King Shaka International Airport.
Inside King Shaka International Airport. Picture: Shelley Kjonstad/ Independent Newspapers