in Features / Airports

Rampa ramps up Lanseria

Posted 2 March 2018 · Add Comment

Located on the outskirts of Johannesburg, Lanseria International Airport has ambitious plans to grow. The airport’s CEO, Rampa Rammopo, explains to Keith Mwanalushi how it’s all being achieved.

By all accounts, domestic air travel in South Africa has been picking up over the last few years.
There are several factors at play. Price is probably primary here – air fares in South Africa are more affordable now than even five years ago, which is stimulating market demand and opening up travel opportunities for many who have never had them before.
A weaker currency, while not generally good for the country, has prompted an upsurge in international tourists coming into the country too, which is great for the domestic carriers.
Despite some tough operational conditions in the South African airline industry, it’s these domestic operators that are fuelling growth at Lanseria International Airport (LIA), which has set out a plan to become the airport of choice. “We are the fourth largest airport in South Africa by passenger traffic and one of only two privately owned international airports in the country,” declared CEO, Rampa Rammopo.
The airport caters for both the general aviation and commercial scheduled airlines offering services to destinations in South Africa. It mainly services the low-cost carrier (LCC) market, and is positioning itself to be the main alternative to Johannesburg’s main OR Tambo International Airport for domestic air traffic.
Its retail offering includes an upgraded passenger terminal building, restaurants, duty-free shopping, lounge facilities, ample parking, easy flow pick-up and drop-off area, with an improved road access getting to the airport.
LIA has established itself as a favoured low-cost hub for passengers to quickly and conveniently connect to South Africa’s other main cities. FlySafair recently joined Kulula and Mango in operating flights from Lanseria to Cape Town, Durban and now George.
The airport handles more than two million passengers a year and the existing terminal is being extended to accommodate more airlines and flights.
Since the launch of its services to LIA, domestic operator, FlySafair, has reported that passengers are a good mix of leisure, business and commuter travellers. The airline says the airport is particularly appealing to those situated in the northern parts of Johannesburg and Pretoria because of its easy access and small and friendly nature.
Rammopo is keen to expand the airport’s footprint to the greater region. “The recently upgraded international section of the terminal building positions the airport to also cater for the regional commercial scheduled airlines,” he said.
There are plans to attract regional air traffic services between South Africa and its neighbouring countries. LIA is currently in discussions with various regional airlines to introduce commercial regional scheduled services within, particularly, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region to operate to and from LIA.
“We want to be catering for the SADC and sub-Saharan African region. We have started talks with international and local airlines to develop regional routes to countries such as Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique and Mauritius,” said Rammopo.
“With our new control tower now more ideally located with improved visibility of the runway and airfields, the opportunity for us to progress our masterplan has become far more viable.”
He plans to strategically place the airport into a niche catchment area, particularly around the Gauteng Province, creating a readily accessible business and tourist hub for the LCC market.
In fact, the new control tower, unveiled in October 2017, is a significant development for the airport.
“We were very excited to officially open our new tower complex. The facility is more than a building that offers additional space for the operations that it will accommodate – it represents our commitment to levelling up and expanding for the growth that we forecast for the future of Lanseria International Airport,” said Rammopo.
The control tower complex also accommodates air traffic and navigation services (ATNS), South African Weather Services (SAWS) and aerodrome rescue and fire-fighting services (ARFFS). “We are confident this facility will improve the operations by having a comprehensive view of and better access response to the airfield for the emergency response team.”
The CEO is particularly keen to see the air traffic management upgrade to a highly sophisticated and top-of-the-range system because of the new tower. “The system is planned to be commissioned and operational in 2018,” he reported.
The Gauteng Provincial Government says it remains committed to growing the province’s economy through strategic partnerships. As such, it has identified LIA as one of the province’s aviation hubs. It’s been stated that the growth and expansion at the airport ties in very well with the province’s vision of becoming an economic hub.
In addition, LIA has been identified by the Gauteng Provincial Government, together with the City of Johannesburg, as the main anchor for the Airport City development plan. “These two tiers of government will facilitate the development of secondary initiatives linked to the airport, such as residential developments, tourism, a special economic zone, industrial developments and related developments,” explained Rammopo.
He said the master plan for the airport is aligned with the Airport City concept and makes provision for extended terminal building capacity, adequate public parking – both surface and multi-storey, road accessibility and sufficient public transport services.
It’s reported that LIA is being guided by the city and the province in terms of the developmental roadmap for the Airport City concept. According to the premier of the Gauteng Province, David Makhura: “In the coming years, more than R10 billion ($720m) will be injected into the establishment of the new Airport City in Lanseria.”
Makhura continued: “We are investing massively in improving access and the movement of people, goods and services into and out of the West Rand region. The new economy of this area will be anchored specifically on the development of new economic nodes around the Lanseria Airport. The Gautrain [rail service] will reach the Lanseria Airport to connect all our major cities in Gauteng. The future is unfolding in front of us.”
To meet some of the demands for the region, expansion plans for the airport include the construction of the three-level multi-storey car park currently under way, as well as the expansion of the terminal building and upgrades to the airport’s fuel farms and technical facilities.
LIA is now investing in self-service technology developed by IT company SITA. Using the systems, passengers will now be able to quickly check-in and drop their bags before proceeding directly to the gate without having to visit a traditional check-in counter.
“LIA is proud to be the first airport in Africa to introduce a complete suite of self-service technology in partnership with SITA. The introduction of this technology is aimed at maximising convenience for our passengers and airlines,” Rammopo said.
He stated the new technology would allow passengers to check in online, tag and drop their bags and improve the passenger validation process, thus facilitating a seamless and quick flow of passenger traffic through the airport.
“LIA has also rolled out the new baggage reconciliation technology from SITA, which will enable the passengers to track bags at key points during their journey. The airport is also upgrading it common-use kiosks and desk infrastructure to use SITA’s cloud-based solution, eliminating the need for local servers,” he added. This development should also help airlines using the airport to comply with IATA’s Resolution 753, which requires that they track bags at key points during the journey.
Lanseria International Airport has its visions set on expansion. With all the changes that are currently under way, the airport is levelling up to start realising its ambitions.

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