Pretoria - The Limpopo government has welcomed the landing of a first flight from Joburg to the Polokwane Gateway International Airport after five months.
Commercial flights were suspended from using the airport because of non-compliance owing to severe security breaches.
The province’s biggest airport was downgraded from Category 7 to 2 by the South African Civil Aviation Authority. It has now been graded back to Category 7.
Leading the welcoming delegation at the airstrip yesterday were MECs for Transport and Community Safety, Mavhungu Lerule-Ramakhanya and Economic Development and Tourism Thabo Mokone.
The first flight of the day will leave OR Tambo International Airport at 6.35am and is expected to land in Polokwane at 7.30am.
Provincial Premier Stan Mathabatha welcomed the move to reinstate the airport back to Category 7.
He said: “I call on the people of Limpopo to seize the opportunity to use air transportation. This will boost the economy of the province and create jobs and transport individuals from one place to another faster.”
Mokone echoed Mathabatha’s sentiments, saying the resumption of commercial flights in the province would unlock economic fortunes as well as contribute positively to rebuilding the tourism sector, which suffered major devastation as a result of the global Covid-19 pandemic.
He said: “We are delighted that at long last the airport is back. People will get jobs and tourism will be boosted.”
Mokone vowed to never let the closure of the airport happen again. We can’t let this airport close again. People never thought we would achieve resumption at this speed. We promise to make sure that we maintain the airport and (it) is always operational. This airport helps with the traffic on the N1.”
Commercial flights have returned with additional services to start from October 23. The flights will be operated by Airlink, which plans to relaunch its three-times-a-day scheduled service to and from the airport between Polokwane and Joburg.