CTI 2009 May - Cape Town International Airport Aerial

Cape Town - The initial stages of a plan to increase Cape Town International Airport’s capacity – which would accommodate more flights and bigger aircraft – has begun.

As a start, Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) has begun with commissioning experts, SRK Consulting, to begin an environmental impact assessment, required in terms of the National Environmental Management Act 107 of 1998, as amended.

The consultants reported: “Currently, the airport comprises two active runways: the primary runway and a secondary runway bisecting it.”

The two meet near the northern end of the airport precinct.

“Acsa proposes to realign the primary runway and construct parallel and rapid exit taxiways.

“The realigned primary runway will be 3 500m in length and will be built to international specifications, allowing larger (Code F) aircraft – with a wingspan of 65m to 80m – to land at Cape Town International Airport, enabling airport expansion and increased airport capacity. The Airbus A380 has a wingspan of 79.8m.

“Realigning the runway will alleviate current development constraints, and will allow for more efficient future expansion of the airport,” SRK said.

The scope of work assessed in the environmental impact assessment process includes:

l Realignment of the primary runway.

l Construction of associated airport infrastructure (e g taxiways).

l Bulk earthworks proposed to the east of the airport.

l Increased capacity potential provided for by the development in terms of number and/or frequency of flights and new flight paths.

l Associated increase in (external) public road traffic to service increased passenger numbers.

The plan is in keeping with an “Airport Master Plan”, prepared in 2001 and revised in 2006.

“Acsa proposes to construct a new runway, to replace the existing primary runway. The northern end of the new runway will be positioned 220m to the east of the current runway,” the consultants explain. Supplementary work will comprise mainly supporting infrastructure.

Acsa is already developing a commercial and industrial node – referred to as Precinct 3 – and the new runway layout will expand on to land immediately east of the airport property, around 400ha of derelict land, described as “heavily infested with alien vegetation and used for illegal dumping”.

“Small sand dunes, with isolated patches of indigenous vegetation on the dune ridges, and some small degraded wetlands also occur in this area,” the consultants report.

But the environmental impact assessment is the first step – and will include input from a variety of roleplayers.

If finally given the go-ahead, construction is expected to take 24 to 30 months to complete. Construction activities that disrupt operation of the existing runway will take place at night – lasting roughly four months. - Cape Argus