O. R. Tambo International Airport
|O. R. Tambo International Airport|
|IATA: JNB – ICAO: FAOR
– WMO: 68368
|Owner||Airports Company South Africa|
|Serves||Johannesburg, South Africa
Pretoria, South Africa
|Location||Kempton Park, Ekurhuleni, Gauteng, South Africa|
|Elevation AMSL||5,558 ft / 1,694 m|
|Economic impact||$3.2 billion|
|Social impact||128.2 thousand|
|Source: Passenger Statistics|
O. R. Tambo International Airport (IATA: JNB, ICAO: FAOR) (ORTIA) is a major airport in Kempton Park, Ekurhuleni, Gauteng, South Africa, near the city of Johannesburg. It serves as the primary airport for domestic and international travel to/from South Africa and is Africa's busiest airport with a capacity to handle up to 28 million passengers annually serving all continents except Antarctica (the only other airports on earth doing likewise are DOH, AUH and DXB). The airport is the hub of South Africa's largest international and domestic carrier, South African Airways (SAA), and a number of smaller local airlines. The airport handled a total of 18 million passengers in 2014 
It was formerly officially known as Johannesburg International Airport and before that as Jan Smuts International Airport (hence the airport's former ICAO code, "FAJS") after South Africa's internationally renowned statesman by that name. The first renaming was done in 1994 when the newly reformed South African government implemented a national policy of not naming airports after politicians. The policy was however reversed later, and the airport renamed again on 27 October 2006 after Oliver Tambo, a former President of the African National Congress.
- 1 History
- 2 Airport information
- 3 Developments
- 4 Terminals
- 5 Airlines and destinations
- 6 Traffic and statistics
- 7 Other buildings
- 8 Renaming
- 9 Access
- 10 Accidents and incidents
- 11 See also
- 12 References
- 13 External links
The airport was founded in 1952 as "Jan Smuts Airport", two years after his death, near the town of Kempton Park on the East Rand. It displaced the "Palmietfontein International Airport", which had handled European flights since 1945.
It was used as a test airport for the Concorde during the 1970s, to determine how the aircraft would perform while taking off and landing at high altitude. During the 1980s, many countries stopped trading with South Africa because of the United Nation sanctions imposed against South Africa in the struggle against apartheid, and many international airlines had to stop flying to the airport. These sanctions also resulted in South African Airways being refused rights to fly over most African countries, and in addition to this the risk of flying over some African countries was emphasised by the shooting down of two passenger aircraft over Rhodesia (Air Rhodesia Flight 825 and 827), forcing them to fly around the "bulge" of Africa. This required specially-modified aircraft like the Boeing 747-SP. Following the ending of apartheid, the airport's name, and that of other international airports in South Africa, were changed and these restrictions were lifted.
The airport overtook Cairo International Airport in 1996 as the busiest airport in Africa and is the third-busiest airport in the Africa–Middle East region after Dubai International Airport and Doha International Airport. In fiscal year 2010, the airport handled 8.82 million departing passengers.
O. R. Tambo International Airport is a hot and high airport. Situated almost 1,700 metres (5,500 feet) above mean sea level, the air is thin. This means some aircraft must reduce weight by loading less fuel than they would otherwise. The thinner air is also the reason for the longer than usual runways. On some routes such as to North America it means flights from Johannesburg need to refuel en-route while the return flight originating from a lower altitude airport can upload enough fuel to reach Johannesburg non-stop.
O. R. Tambo International Airport is one of the few airports in the world that has non-stop flights to all six inhabited continents (others include Dubai International Airport, Abu Dhabi International Airport and Doha International Airport).
On 10 January 2013 the airport's ICAO code was changed from FAJS to FAOR.
There are two parallel north-south runways and a disused cross runway. The western runway, 03L/21R, is over 4400 m (14,000 ft) long, making it one of the world's longest international airport runways. Fully laden aircraft require a far greater length of runway to achieve take-off velocity at this altitude. Both runways are equipped with Instrument Landing Systems (ILS). Furthermore all runways are equipped with Approach Lighting Systems with sequenced flashers, and touchdown zone (TDZ) lighting. Runway 03R/21L is 3,400m (11,155 ft) long and is also equipped at both ends with ILS, ALS with sequenced flashers, and TDZ lighting. The airport used to have a third runway but this was closed due to the danger it posed. It is now a taxiway.
During busy periods, outbound flights use the western runway for take-off, while inbound flights use the eastern runway for landing. Wind factors may cause numerous variations, but on most days flights will take off to the north and land from the south.
South African Airways
O. R. Tambo International Airport used to serve as grounds for the South African Airways Museum. This room full of South African Airways memorabilia was started by two fans of the airline as a temporary location until they could set it up in one of Jan Smuts International's buildings in 1987. The museum has since relocated to Rand Airport (FAGM).
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Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) reported that major new developments took place at the airport, in preparation for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The development includes expansion of the international terminal, with the new international pier, which house the new Airbus A380 and increase capacity at the same time. A new Central Terminal building, designed by Osmond Lange Architects and Planners, is under construction. An additional multi-storey parkade is being built at a cost of R470 million opposite the Central Terminal Building, plus Terminal A is also being upgraded and the associated roadways realigned to accommodate more International Departures space.
The Central Terminal Building (CTB) (cost: R2 billion) will boost capacity at the landside of the terminal in 3 levels, also allowing direct access from international and domestic terminals. Additional luggage carousels will be added to accommodate the Airbus A380. Arrivals will be accommodated on level 1, with departures expanded on level 3; level 2 will accommodate further retail and commercial activities. The Gautrain Rapid Rail Link station is above the terminal.
The new International Pier development (cost: R535 million) will increase international arrivals and departures capacity in a double storey structure with nine additional airside contact stands, four of which are Airbus A380 compatible. Air bridges are already in place and the existing duty-free mall will be extended into this area. Additional lounges and passenger holding areas will be constructed on the upper level.
A second terminal between the two runways has also been mooted, which is proposed for completion by 2012. It will contain its own domestic and international check-in facilities, contact stands, shops and lounges and is projected to cost R8 billion to complete. Growth at the airport is expected to reach 24 million passengers per annum by 2015.
In November 2009 Air France announced the scheduled flights of their Airbus A380 into Johannesburg's O.R. Tambo International Airport. Air France started A380 flights to Johannesburg on 17 February 2010, initially thrice weekly, now increased to daily. Lufthansa started twice weekly A380 flights into Johannesburg on 12 September 2010. Lufthansa is now operating the A380 daily into Johannesburg. Emirates Airlines started an A380 daily service to Johannesburg from 1 October 2011, replacing one of their 3 daily 777-300ER flights, which was later cancelled. British Airways confirmed on 24 July 2013 that it will also start A380 services into the airport from 12 February 2014. Initially it will operate the aircraft three times weekly, then increasing to six times weekly from March 2014.
There are six terminals at the airport, but these can be broken down into three major areas: the international terminals; the domestic terminals; and the transit terminals. The transit terminal housed disused parts of the old domestic terminals. It has been mostly demolished to build a new Central Terminal that will provide an indoor link between domestic and international terminals, as well as a central passenger check-in area and more gates. It was constructed for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Terminals A1 and A2 handle international passengers while the other two terminals handle domestic passengers. Due to the airport's design, departure and arrivals terminals are considered separate terminals. The Central Terminal that is under construction will be named Terminal A3 and it will be used for both international and domestic passengers. The airline Mango has its head office on the mezzanine level of the Domestic Departure Terminal.
The two terminals A and B have been restructured. Several airlines now use terminal B for all check-ins (top floor, adjacent to the arrivals atrium), for both national and international flights. The airlines that moved check-in to Terminal B include SAA, SA Airlink, SA Express, Air Mauritius, Qantas and Thai Airways International.
Airlines and destinations
^Note 1 This flight continues from Johannesburg to Cape Town. However, Singapore Airlines does not have rights to transport passengers solely between Johannesburg and Cape Town.
Traffic and statistics
O. R. Tambo International Airport recorded 18.6 million passengers in 2010–2011, up from 17.6 million passengers the year before. Of those passengers, 8 million were international and 9.7 million domestic, with the remainder being classified as "regional" or "unscheduled". 212,918 aircraft traffic movements were recorded; the majority being domestic services. The statistics firmly entrench O. R. Tambo International Airport as being the busiest airport in South Africa.
|Passenger movements||% Change||Passenger movements||% Change||Passenger movements||% Change||Passenger movements||% Change||Passenger movements||% Change|
|2006–07||6,958,277||no data||651,642||no data||10,094,758||no data||89,423||no data||17,794,100||no data|
|Aircraft movements||% Change||Aircraft movements||% Change||Aircraft movements||% Change||Aircraft movements||% Change||Aircraft movements||% Change|
|2006–07||53,003||no data||17,684||no data||114,917||no data||26,037||no data||211,641||no data|
Top 12 routes
|1||South Africa||Cape Town International Airport||47,132|
|2||South Africa||Durban-King Shaka International||29,461|
|4||South Africa||Port Elizabeth Airport||10,151|
|5||United Arab Emirates||Dubai International Airport||8,400|
|6||South Africa||East London Airport||6,336|
|9||South Africa||George Airport||4,960|
|10||Zimbabwe||Harare International Airport||4,454|
|12||Botswana||Gaborone-Sir Seretse Khama||4,231|
South African Airways is headquartered in Airways Park on the grounds of O. R. Tambo International Airport. The building was developed by Stauch Vorster Architects. Airways Park was completed in March 1997 for 70,000,000 Rand. The fourth floor of the West Wing of the Pier Development of O. R. Tambo has the head office of SA Express. Federal Air its the head office in Hangar 14.
In late 2005, a name change was proposed for the airport to "O. R. Tambo International," after former ANC President and anti-apartheid activist Oliver Reginald Tambo, an apparent change to the precedent of neutrally-named airports. The name change was formally announced in the Government Gazette of South Africa on 30 June 2006, allowing a 30-day window for the public to register objections. The name change was implemented on 27 October 2006 with the unveiling of new signs at the airport.
Critics noted the considerable expense involved in renaming the airport, and the decision to use a politician as the name would be obscure, confusing and in some instances, offensive. Corne Mulder of the Freedom Front Plus has stamped the renaming "nothing less than political opportunism and attempts by the ANC government to dodge the true socio-economic issues of the country".
Unnecessary confusion can be caused, for O. R. Tambo is also a district municipality in the Eastern Cape, seated in Mthatha. The town of Mthatha has an international airport known as Mthatha Airport, formerly named the K. D. Matanzima Airport after former Transkei President Kaiser Matanzima.
A transit terminal has been built between the domestic and international terminals. It houses the Gautrain station linking the airport to Sandton, one of the metropolitan area's main business districts and a primary tourist area, and, from there, the rest of the Gautrain system.
In September 2006 Gauteng Province contracted Bombardier Transportation for a rail link connecting Johannesburg, Pretoria, and the airport, with construction to begin immediately. The section linking the airport to Sandton in Johannesburg was completed on 8 June 2010 in time for the World Cup. Trains run 90 trips per day and carry an estimated 8000 passengers daily.
The airport is easily accessible by car and it is located in North-East Johannesburg on the R24 Airport Freeway, which can be accessed by the R24 (South Africa) and the R21 highway. The R24 intersects with the R21 near the airport and with the O. R. Tambo Airport Highway. This highway goes through the airport terminals, separating them from the parking bays, but it branches off into two directions: "departures" and "arrivals", and then it rebranches into the intersection. Car rental companies serve the airport, with rental locations located on and off the airport.
Five bus city lines, operated by Metrobus and Putco, pass through the airport twice a day. The buses are accessible in the morning and the evening, when there are many passengers departing and arriving. There are also private bus lines operating express buses to the CBD of Johannesburg, as well as other locations.
Accidents and incidents
- 20 October 1957 – A Vickers Viscount G-AOYF, operated by Vickers was damaged beyond economic repair when the starboard undercarriage collapsed following a heavy landing.
- 1 March 1988 – An Embraer EMB 110 Bandeirante, ZS-LGP, exploded in mid air whilst on final approach for landing. All seventeen occupants were killed. A passenger was suspected of detonating an explosive device but to this day it has never been proven beyond all doubt.
- 22 April 1999 – A Boeing 727-23 was damaged beyond repair by large hailstones while on approach for landing at FAJS. Aircraft landed safely with no loss of life.
- 3 November 2001 – A Reims-Cessna F406 crashed shortly after takeoff from runway 03R, killing all 3 occupants. The aircraft did not have a valid certificate of airworthiness at the time of the incident.
- On 9 April 2004, an Emirates Airbus A340-300 operating a flight from Johannesburg to Dubai sustained serious damage during takeoff when it failed to become airborne before the end of the runway, striking 25 approach lights, causing four tyres to burst which in turn threw debris into various parts of the aircraft, ultimately damaging the flap drive mechanism. This rendered the flaps immoveable in the takeoff position. The aircraft returned for an emergency landing during which the normal braking system failed as a result of the damage. The aircraft was brought to a stop only 250 metres from the end of the 3,400-metre runway using reverse thrust and the alternate braking system. In their report, South African investigators found that the captain had used an erroneous take-off technique, and criticised Emirates training and rostering practices.
- 25 March 2006 – Gunmen held up guards at the airport gates. Others armed with AK-47 assault rifles held up guards and police at a South African Airways aircraft and helped themselves to bags of pound sterling banknotes flown in from Britain. Several airport security staff were implicated in the heist.
- On 22 December 2013 a British Airways Boeing 747-400 operating flight 34 collided with a building at the airport. Four ground-handling staff in the building sustained minor injuries. As of February 2014, the aircraft was put out of service.
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