Govt 'regrets' Dbn flight chaos

2010-07-08 16:14
Durban - The government has apologised to soccer fans who missed the World Cup semi-final between Spain and Germany on Wednesday because of aircraft parking chaos at King Shaka International Airport.

"As government, we regret the inconvenience caused to all those fans...," Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele said on Thursday.

Acsa, Air Traffic and Navigation Services and the rest of the aviation sector would continue to work together and would strengthen their private aircraft operator facilitation plans for the remainder of the World Cup.

"Transport has generally been moving smoothly since the start of the FIFA World Cup," he said.

"It’s now all systems go for the closing ceremony and the final match of the 2010 FIFA World Cup at Soccer City in Johannesburg on Sunday."

'More forceful'

The Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) said on Thursday that private aircraft would be towed out of the way if their pilots refused to move them at OR Tambo International Airport during the final World Cup game.

"We are going to be more forceful on Sunday. If aircraft refuse to move we will tow them away," said Acsa operations manager Bongani Maseko.

He said that on Wednesday the pilots of private aircraft, many carrying VIPs, refused to adhere to the set procedure of dropping off their passengers at King Shaka International Airport before moving to the old Durban International Airport to park.

"The procedure was going very well throughout the day.... It was only late when aircraft refused to reposition," Maseko said.

He said that on a normal day, about 100 aircraft flew in to King Shaka airport. On Wednesday, there were about 250.

On Wednesday night, five plane-loads of football fans were delayed before the game between Germany and Spain. Four of the planes were from Johannesburg and one was from Cape Town.

"I am not blaming the VIPs. The people who caused the problem were the people flying the aircraft," said Maseko.

He said the pilots had started moving their aircraft when Acsa threatened to take action against them, but by then it was too late.

The situation at the airport had normalised by Thursday.

No repeat

On Sunday, Spain plays the Netherlands in the World Cup final at Soccer City, in Johannesburg.

Maseko said there were lots of places for aircraft to park in the area and there would not be a repeat of the problem in Durban.

Ndebele urged people attending the final to use public transport.

The Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit system and Metro Rail would begin operating to the stadium from 14:00.

Ndebele said traffic flow problems to the stadium in Johannesburg had largely been caused largely by locals using private vehicles instead of public transport.

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