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SPECIAL REPORT: KING SHAKA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, LA MERCY Photo by Russell Cleaver

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SPECIAL REPORT > Photo by Russell Cleaver

KZN’S ECONOMY SET TO TAKE OFF By Bev Hermanson

Located at La Mercy, approximately 35 kilometers north of Durban’s city centre, King Shaka International Airport is a ground breaking co-operative project agreement that was reached between the National Department of Transport, the Provincial Government of KwaZulu-Natal and Airports Company South Africa (ACSA). It is also the first greenfields airport to be built in the past 50 years in South Africa and possibly the only one currently being built in the world.

SPECIAL REPORT > Photo by Russell Cleaver

Replacing the existing Durban International Airport, which will eventually be decommissioned, King Shaka International Airport is expected to open on 1 May 2010, just over a month before the start of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The airport, which was designed by a consortium of architects called the Ilembe Architectural Joint Venture, consisting of Osmond Lange Architects and Planners, Ruben Reddy Architects, Shabangu Architects, Mthulisi Msimang Architects and NSM Designs, will cost over R7-billion by the time it is completed. With a terminal floor area of 103,000 m², runway and taxiways covering 400,000 m² and facilities to support the airport including administration offices and transit accommodation for tourists, an integrated agricultural export zone and an IT platform, the airport is making a significantly positive impact on the economy of the region.

BACKGROUND The prospect of building a brand new airport for Durban was mooted during the 70s and in fact some initial infrastructural work was completed between 1975 and 1982. Due to the economic recession of the 80s, the entire project was halted and it wasn’t until the 90s that the notion of relocating the Durban International Airport was revived. Extensive research, analysis and agonizing over whether to relocate or upgrade the existing airport ensued, however in July 2006 it was finally concluded that the existing airport, even when fully developed, would not provide enough capacity for the region. It was decided that ACSA would develop, manage and own the airport while the Dube TradePort Company would develop a cargo facility, trade and agri zone nearby.

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DUBE TRADEPORT The siting of the new airport complements the development of the Dube TradePort, which is situated on 2060 ha of land that is perfectly accessible by the two major ports of Durban and Richards Bay and the rail and road links with Gauteng. Wholly funded by the Kzn Department of Economic Development, the Dube TradePort is intended to be a world class freight logistics facility that will be geared to attract a wide range of activities that will stimulate economic advancement in the region. The Dube TradePort platform is split into three sections namely: Trade Zone, Agri Zone and Support Zone (joint venture with ACSA). The Trade Zone, which includes the cargo handling terminal at the airport, will stimulate

the import and export of high value goods by air to and from KwaZulu Natal. The Support Zone has been designed to cater to the corporate sector as well as the suppliers of services and tourist accommodation through the provision of offices, buildings, conference and entertainment facilities, while the Agri Zone will involve the cultivation of high value farming products for export. Anyone travelling by road between Johannesburg and Durban will testify to the enormous volume of road freight traffic that uses the route daily. When completed, the Dube TradePort and the King Shaka International Airport will alleviate the pressure on this route by facilitating that the more than 50 000 tons of manufactured goods produced in the region will be air freighted directly from the local airport in the future,

Photos by Russell Cleaver

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SPECIAL REPORT > Photo by Russell Cleaver

rather than having to undergo the arduous transportation to Gauteng for airfreighting from the Highveld airports. The new cargo terminal at King Shaka, in fact, will have the capacity to handle over 100 000 tons of cargo per year, thereby allowing for considerable growth in the future.

management construction consultants, Turner Townsend, and Indiza, led by Grinaker and LTA. When the latter was disqualified for failing to meet certain tender requirements, an appeal was lodged at the Pietermaritzburg High Court, but was subsequently dismissed, leaving the path clear for Ilembe to continue.

AWARDING THE CONSTRUCTION TENDER

The construction began in late August 2007, giving the main construction team and more than 2100 subcontractors just over 2 years to complete everything.

One of the bones of contention that delayed the start of the airport construction phase was when it came time to the awarding of the contract for the construction. Amongst the bidders for the tender were two consortia – the 55% Black owned Ilembe Consortium comprising Group Five, Mvelaphanda Holdings and WBHO Construction, supported by construction and

ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES Prior to commencement of the construction, there were a number of environmental aspects that needed to be considered. For an undertaking of this size, a full environmental impact study was essential. Clearly

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noise pollution and increased traffic were important considerations. However, the assessments also revealed a possible threat to the bird population in the vicinity, in particular the 3 million barn swallows that migrate every year from Europe to roost in an area close to the airport. Known as the Mount Moreland Reedbed, this site is in the flight path of aircraft that will be using the airport. Concerns raised not only included the possible disturbance of the bird colony on the ground, but also the possible hazard of birds in flight putting aircraft safety at risk. Whilst the idea of bird strikes is alarming, this is a hazard that is regularly encountered by all airports worldwide. From the intensive research conducted by ACSA and the Mt. Mooreland community, it was discovered that

the swallows rarely fly as high as the aircraft and their main activities in the area are 30 minutes before dusk and just before dawn. Two solutions were found to allow the birds and the airport to co-exist. Firstly, the flight schedulers will take these critical times into account and plan around them, to avoid unnecessary risk to the air carriers and secondly, a special bird detection radar system has been instituted by ACSA to monitor the movements of the birds. The added bonus is that this system is able to detect the presence of bats at night, as well. This will be the first time in the world that a system of this kind, which will be integrated into the operational procedures of the airport, will be utilised in South Africa. The noise pollution and fuel transportation to the new airport site were also issued with a positive record of decision.

Photos by Russell Cleaver

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DESIGN OF THE AIRPORT As with the building of the Gautrain and the 2010 stadia, the architects and engineers travelled to many countries looking for lessons that needed to be learnt. For the King Shaka Airport, the opportunity to plan a building that was to be built from scratch was most welcome as the provision for expansion was an automatic part of the initial plan. “It’s in the expansion that most existing airports have suffered enormous growing pains,” comments Victor Utria of Osmond Lange Architects. “No one predicted the extent of the future demand and how passenger volumes would exert so much pressure on the facilities. It was interesting to see that, although they all have to perform exactly the same functions, no two airports are the same. With the planning of the King Shaka International Airport, we had the luxury of being able to plan for expansion in an orderly fashion. That being said, there is no way of knowing how changes in technology will take airport design off onto a different tangent in the future.” Due to the sheer size of the project, the design responsibilities were split amongst the five design firms in the consortium. Durban-based NSM Designs were tasked with the planning for the cargo terminal, while Ruben Reddy Architects handled the passenger terminal airside corridor, the cooling towers complex and the external urban fabric that encompassed the roads, parking areas and pedestrian walkways. Mthulisi Msimang Architects from Pietermaritzburg handled the multi-storey parkade and office building, while Shabangu Architects from Johannesburg was responsible for the car rental facilities, the control tower and most of the support buildings. Osmond Lange Architects & Planners handled

the co-ordination as well as the design of the passenger terminal building and the retail facilities. “An airport in its entirety is a machine and all of the different parts are equally important to ensure that the airport functions efficiently,” says Utria of the split of responsibilities. Certainly, as a mere passenger, it is difficult to understand everything that is involved in the running of such a large facility. This is indeed why airports take such a long time in the planning process. “Durban Airport took 30 years to completion once the site was identified. Heathrow’s Terminal 5 took 40 years to completion. In that time, one hopes that air travel, as one knows it, hasn’t changed too dramatically.”

KING SHAKA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT TIMELINES 6 June 2007

R 7.2bn design & construction contract awarded to the Ilembe Consortium

23 August 2007

Positive EIA (environmental impact assessment) record of decision (ROD) issued

30 September 2007

Ground breaking ceremony

31 August 2007

Site work commenced

30 September 2008

Control Tower topped out

30 June 2009

Terminal Building topped out

30 October 2009

Runway will be completed

First quarter 2010

Durban International Airport, will be decommissioned. New International Airport will be commissioned

29 April 2010

Contractual completion

SPECIAL REPORT >

MATERIALS USED Materials

Quantity

Equivalent to

Runway & taxiway pavements

400 000 m2

100 Soccer pitches

Terminal Building footprint

35 000 m

9 Soccer pitches

Terminal floor area

103 000 m2

27 Soccer pitches

Earth to be moved

5.8 Million m2

2,500 Olympic swimming pools

Concrete to be poured

100 000 m

50 Olympic swimming pools

Structural steel to be erected

4 700 tonnes

½ the Eiffel Tower

Asphalt

230 000 tonnes

35 km of 4 lane highway

Electrical cabling

700 km

From Durban to East London

2

2

Photo by Nicolas Gonzalez

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SPECIAL REPORT > Photo by Russell Cleaver

AIRPORT PRECINCT DIVISIONS

Road Network

Landside This area is outside the terminal building, in areas used by people and vehicles. It includes the roads network, with access to all areas of the airport precinct, car rental facilities, public parkades, shaded parking areas, administrative buildings and various other services and facilities.

There is a system of roads feeding into the Airport and Dube Trade Port’s road circulation networks, with principle access off the main collector road that links the N2 and the R102. The southbound carriageway to the N2 will be tolled. ACSA is currently negotiating concessions with South African National Roads Agency (SANRAL) for the broader airport community.

The area is freely accessible to all users of the airport. Pedestrian and vehicle movements are guided and managed by ACSA with the support of eThekweni Metro Police.

Local access roads will allow for ingress and egress to the staff parking, open parking, multi-storey parkade, car rental, and drop-off and pick-up areas.

SPECIAL REPORT > Photo by Russell Cleaver

Pick–up and Drop–off Areas The pick-up areas are situated at grade, alongside the piazza, with separate provision for private vehicles and public transport. The drop-off area is situated on the elevated roadway, outside the Departures Hall at the terminal building.

Public Transport Public transport facilities have been provided within the precinct and cater for both bus and taxi demands.

Pedestrian Circulation Pedestrian movement within the development area is catered for through the provision of sidewalks where significant numbers of pedestrians are anticipated.

A conscious effort has been made to minimise conflict between pedestrians, buildings and vehicles through the development of a ‘pedestrian sensitive’ traffic routing plan. Where conflicts are large and unavoidable, grade separation of vehicle and pedestrian movements has been provided.

Terminal Immediate focus at the new International Airport is inevitably the terminal building, with its impressive 150-metre roof span. Considering that the new airport is almost triple the size of the old airport, it is here that the majority of the airport staff will spend their time, and it is where all passengers and the people who transport, meet and greet them, congregate. The building incorporates the very latest design concepts to make the working environment as effective as possible

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and to make a passenger’s movement through the necessary processes from arrival (either from land or air) to departure (air or land) as smooth and pleasant as possible. The terminal is clearly demarcated between those areas freely accessible to the general public, through to security checkpoints. From there, either a boarding pass or security permit is required for access.

This area includes the passenger holding lounges and allows access to the apron area, where aircraft are parked and serviced. Passengers with a valid boarding pass are restricted to specific areas within the general ‘airside’. People with a valid security permit are only allowed access to those areas specified on their permit.

Airside

FACTS AND FIGURES

This is the part of the airport that is completely ‘security controlled’. It is bounded by the security checkpoints in the terminal building and extends to the airfield itself. It is only accessible by a passenger with a valid boarding pass or airport staff with a relevant security permit.

Construction sites Six construction sites were set up for the earthworks to prepare the runway, taxiways and aircraft parking areas (the size of 100 soccer pitches).

Photos by Russell Cleaver

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SPECIAL REPORT > Photos by Nicolas Gonzalez (top left & right) and Russell Cleaver (top left & right)

Personnel on site

Capacity

In mid-2008, there were 2 100 contractors and sub-

The initial airport capacity will allow for 7.5 million

contractors on site along with 200 earth-moving ma-

passengers a year with opportunities for significant

chines. In October 2009, 7 732 people worked on site.

expansion, should it be required (figures are projected at 45 million passengers by 2060).

Courier and parcel facility Aircraft stands on the apron There will be an international courier and parcel facility designed to handle 1000 bags/parcels per hour in and

The passenger terminal will initially have 18 Passenger

out, as well as a local parcel and courier facility designed

aircraft stands and by 2060, there will be parking space

to handle 400 bags/parcels per hour in and out.

on the apron for 96 aircraft.

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Photo by Russell Cleaver

Runway and taxiways

Support Zone

The runway is 3.7 km x 60 metres wide and will be able to will accommodate the latest New Generation Large Aircraft (NGLA) including the Airbus A380, with space to expand to 4 km.

This includes platforms for future development of conference, hotel and entertainment facilities which will be a joint venture between ACSA and DTP.

The runway and 10 taxiways cover 400, 000² and required 230,000t of asphalt to complete (the equivalent of 35km of a four-lane highway).

Cargo building Annually, between 50 000 and 90 000 tons of goods from Durban’s harbour are trucked to JHB airport for export. Most of this will now remain in Durban and will be flown out directly from the new airport via the state-of- the-art 160 000 m² cargo facilities (DIA currently has 39 000 m2 cargo facilities).

Fuel The fuel farm is equipped with four fuel tanks. The fuel will be brought by truck from the refinery located near the existing airport.

Landscaped gardens Large areas that surround the terminal building are being landscaped to enhance the overall aesthetics of the airport.

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Photos by Russell Cleaver

Parking The multi-storey parkade caters for 1500 vehicles while there is a total of 6500 vehicle parking pays at the new airport.

Road infrastructure The traffic, engineering and transport planning was undertaken to maximise accessibility and flexibility to and around the new airport. The plans provide sufficient flexibility to ensure that all future (2060) projected transportation modes and requirements have been considered. The proposed N2 interchange which forms part of the development, will be the primary access road to the airport. A link road between the airport and the N2 has been constructed.

Job creation It has been estimated that the airport could create between 165 000 and 260 000 jobs over the next 20 years.

Capital cost of the project Although the capital cost of the project was originally estimated at R 6,8-billion, a negotiated acceleration

programme amounting to R 400-million has increased the capital cost to R 7,2-billion.

OPERATIONAL READINESS AND TRANSFER PROGRAM The Operational Readiness and Transfer Programme commenced in November 2009 when the familiarisation programme was initiated. This involved taking the bulk of the 3400 work force from the current airport over to the new site, to familiarise them with the new airport. More than 2500 of the staff have already been exposed to their new home. This has injected a positive energy into the process, with most of the staff belonging to the various organisations confirming their commitment to continue fulfilling their roles at the new airport. On 15 December 2009 the South African Civil Aviation Authority successfully conducted calibration tests on the runway lighting and navigational aids. This involved a collaborative effort of various stakeholders, including the building contractor, Air Traffic Navigation Services (ATNS), ACSA and the ORAT Team. On 14th January 2010 the first Basic End User Trial started, involving the participation of key stakeholders such as some of the airlines, ground handlers and

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ACSA. This programme involved testing the various components of airport operations including flight data, passenger handling, check-in and boarding processes, baggage screening and the like. The daunting but exciting task of relocating the airport ‘overnight’ to the new site will be the final phase of the operation. Behind the scenes, a team headed by Bongiwe Pityi (AGM Airport Operations) for ACSA, is working along with a team of local and international consultants, to make this a reality. Pityi explained, “The plan is that on 30 April the last aircraft will land at DIA and, after the passengers have left the airport, those aircraft will be relocated to the new airport. The equipment and resources will be relocated for most of that previous week, with the balance moved overnight on 30 April into the early hours of 1 May. Fortunately, with 1 May being a Saturday, it is relatively quieter from an operational perspective. On this day, the new airport will commence operations.”

what the Durban International Airport was able to cope with and the new facilities.

Comparisons of Durban International Airport to King Shaka International Airport Areas

Durban

King Shaka

Runway

2.4 kms

3.7 kms

30 000 m2

103 000 m2

Air Bridges

None

12

Public Parking

2490

6500

2900 m2

6500 m2

24

34

11

25

None

12

4.4 million pa

7.5 million pa

52

75

Retail outlets

14

50

Car rentals

8

10

Terminal Area

Retail Space Aircraft Parking Bays Lifts Escalators Passenger numbers Check in

DECOMMISSIONING THE OLD AIRPORT Once the new airport is fully operational, the current airport will be decommissioned as an airport and all aviation business will then be relocated and conducted at the new airport. This basically means that all scheduled aircraft; domestic and international, will be operating from the new airport from 1 May 2010. The current airport, once decommissioned as an airport, will be disposed of according to a decision that will be made by a task team consisting of ACSA, Dti, National/ Provincial Government and eThekwini Municipality. To emphasise the giant leaps taken in relocating the airport, let’s take a look at a few comparisons between

counters

“Although air travel has an element of fantasy surrounding it, flying is generally stressful,” says Utria. “One of the ways of reducing the stress is through facilitating ease of access and efficient processes. A world class facility of this quality has been long overdue in the region and the opening of the new airport will have great benefits for Durban and KwaZulu Natal.” Considering the vastly improved facilities, compared with the old airport, this can only bode well for the future. <


King Shaka Airport