Acsa beefs up operations at holiday-hub airports for festive season flights

2016-11-30 07:00 - Louzel Lombard Steyn
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Cape Town - Airports Company South Africa (Asca) is gearing up its busiest time of year - the December holiday period - by beefing operation and management strategies across the holiday hotspot airports it manages and operates, namely Cape Town International, East London, George, Port Elizabeth and OR Tambo International and King Shaka International Airports. 

During the previous festive season which included December 2015 and January 2016, more than 6.5 million passengers travelled through Airports Company South Africa’s airports. 

This year, Acsa says it's bracing for similar numbers. And although the influx of visitors are welcomed by South African Tourism, there have been concerns about delays at SA's immigration counters due to the implementation of biometric data capturing at the airports. 

ALSO READ: Acsa asks travellers to be vigilant after heist raises OR Tambo security concerns

To fight the imminent backlog, the Tourism Business Council of South Africa along with other tourism stakeholders and the ministers of Tourism and Finance in South Africa recently put forward three possible suggestions to alleviate congestion at all SA's major airport before the start of the festive season. 

The quick-fix solutions are yet to receive the go-ahead, and visitors on both domestic and international flights are advised to be patient at the airport and allow enough travel and transit time for flights. 

SEE: Biometric Delays: 3 quick-fixes to ease festive season spike at SA airports

"During spikes in numbers of people making their way to the airport, some procedures may take longer than usual, therefore airport users are encouraged to arrive at the airport earlier than usual," Acsa warned in their statement on Tuesday, 29 November. 

Every airport has been planning to accommodate the changes in passenger and customer traffic during the festive season to ensure readiness. 

Some of these plans at the busiest holiday-hub airports include:

At Cape Town International Airport:

With an influx of tourists coming into Cape Town, there is a focus on allocating resources to hot spots in the terminal and other areas
There are regular interaction platforms with the rest of the value chain to ensure alignment of processes
An increase in trolley resources have been put in place
Role clarification awareness programmes are running in the event of emergencies
As always, aviation security and SAPS are vigilant in and around the airport precinct
Teams are focused on ensuring that all passengers experience a seamless end-to-end process



At East London airport:

All staff leave plans for this period were assessed to ensure adequate key resources are in place for the entire period


At King Shaka International airport: 

High visibility of Security and SAPS at the terminal building and parking to ensure the same level of efficiency is maintained
Airport staff and security teams will all be working overtime during the festive period


At George Airport, which has received additional flights from several airlines for the festive season:

There are two baggage carousels in operation, due to the traffic increase
Pick up luggage at airside takes place before entering the arrivals terminal as an enhanced security measure
High visibility of Security and SAPS at the terminal building and parking to ensure the same level of efficiency is maintained
Airport staff and security teams will all be working overtime during the festive period, as will the police who will ensure heightened visibility of its dog unit
Two self-service devices have recently been installed at the terminal to assist passengers and minimise queues at the counters
The traffic department will be on alert to ensure congestion in the area is avoided



At Port Elizabeth:

The management team will be on duty during the festive season with 24 hours operation
Security and SAPS will provide support required to handle increases in passengers
At OR Tambo International Airport
The airport has operational contingency plans in place and is working in close collaborations with various stakeholders to ensure that passenger experience is exceeded
As the airport gears up for the festive season, staff will increase their working hours based on demand
Security services will be on high alert during the festive season and will be working closely with SAPS, other security agencies and various stakeholders to ensure passenger safety


Acsa urged passenger safety, and also encouraged passengers to report any unusual or criminal behaviour to the police or security personnel at the airport.


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