The man tasked with restoring Wonderboom Airport has asked the City of Tshwane to give him maintenance resources.
New manager, Ian Melamed, said he brought a wealth of experience and expertise dating back from the 1960s, and he knew the airport very well as he had used it to work on his own aircraft there over the years.
Melamed is contracted to Ntiyiso Consulting, a transactional adviser appointed by the City of Tshwane to help restore the airport and have it regraded to a category 5 by the Civil Aviation Authority.
Executive mayor Stevens Mokgalapa yesterday held a private meeting with stakeholders at the airport to find out what needs to be maintained or replaced for it to be commercially viable, and start generating revenue.
Melamed said a list of everything that needed maintenance had been submitted to the City without costs, but if things like the generator and the landing lights need to be replaced the costs could be substantial.
He said for the City to get this right, having been in the industry for many years, his advice and demand was the one thing every airport manager in the world prioritises most for safety: maintenance.
He said last month a list was submitted to senior officials at the City for what requires maintenance. All that’s left is for those things to be supplied so that the process of implementation can commence.
“Restoring an airport is not rocket science. As long as the resources are made available it’s possible.
"I’m glad the mayor and the people who came here were prepared to listen. Action is what Im waiting for. I want to see that the maintenance happens and happens fast. I don’t want to see the delays, because the delays create the issue of unsafely.
“The issue here is very simple: making Wonderboom a safe airport. That’s what I’m interested in. As long as the maintenance takes place, Wonderboom will be a safe airport.
“There is no reason in the world why it cannot return to that,” he said.
Melamed said major concerns included ensuring that load shedding did not negatively impact aircraft landing and taking off. And the airport might need to maintain or get another generator that kicks in speedily.
This also included ensuring that the landing lights and components of air traffic control were safe. Ensuring that fire hoses were in place and fire hydrants serviced, and ensuring that there is not a pothole anywhere in the airport were crucial.
Mokgalapa said the list of demands will be considered so that the City can provide what is needed to ensure that the airport becomes financially viable, instead of costing the City to keep it running.
Mokgalapa said the new management started work last month and his visit was to evaluate and assess what work they had done, the challenges and what they planned to do going forward.
“We need to cut the grass. We need to ensure the landing lights are functional, fix the potholes and do the markings. We also need to make sure the ablution facilities and hangers are properly functional.
“Most importantly, we need to ensure that we upgrade from a category 2 airport to category 5, so that the business model of making the airport viable is sustainable,” he said.
Although the City was criticised for appointing Ntiyiso Consulting to manage the airport even though it did not have experience in the aviation industry, Mokgalapa said he was confident the company was going to produce results.
He said the City was clear that it appointed Ntiyiso Consulting as a transactional adviser so that they give the City a commercial model of what it needed to do with the airport moving forward.
“A transactional adviser is someone who assists by doing scientific research of what you need to do with the airport and what kind of options you need to take,” he said.