Mthatha Airport

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Mthatha Airport
Summary
Airport type Public
Operator Provincial Government
Serves Mthatha, Eastern Cape, South Africa
Elevation AMSL 2,429 ft / 740 m
Coordinates 31°32′47″S 028°40′31″E / 31.54639°S 28.67528°E / -31.54639; 28.67528Coordinates: 31°32′47″S 028°40′31″E / 31.54639°S 28.67528°E / -31.54639; 28.67528
Map
FAUT is located in Eastern Cape
FAUT
FAUT
Location of the airport in the Eastern Cape
Runways
Direction Length Surface
m ft
14/32 2,600 8,530 Asphalt
Sources: South African AIP,[1] IATA[2]

Mthatha Airport (IATA: UTTICAO: FAUT) is an airport serving Mthatha (formerly Umtata), a town in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. The airport was previously named K. D. Matanzima Airport after Kaiser Matanzima, a president of the former Transkei.[1][2]

Facilities[edit]

The airport resides at an elevation of 2,429 feet (740 m) above mean sea level.[1] It has one asphalt paved runway designated 14/32 which measures 2,600 by 45 metres (8,530 ft × 148 ft).[1] Runway 14/32 was expanded from its previous size of 2,000 by 23 metres (6,562 ft × 75 ft) in 2013; previously there was also a grass runway designated 09/27 which measured 1,500 by 30 metres (4,921 ft × 98 ft).[3][4]

Military use and control[edit]

On 16 May 2012, the Cabinet of South Africa approved a decision to hand over the airport for use by the South African National Defence Force (SANDF). On 21 May 2012, the airport was formally handed over to Lindiwe Sisulu, then Minister of Defence, by Noxolo Kiviet, then Premier of the Eastern Cape. Sisulu said that the airport would be used for border security operations, and the SANDF would contribute towards the development of the airport thus building regional transport infrastructure.[5]

On 7 November 2012 a C-47TP of the South African Air Force was involved in a landing accident at the airport, damaging its right wing, engine and propeller. Early reports stated that the aircraft was carrying a medical crew visiting former President Nelson Mandela at his home in Qunu. This claim was later dismissed by the SANDF.[6][7][8]

On 5 December 2012, all 11 people on board were killed in the 2012 Drakensberg SAAF Dakota crash en route to Mthatha Airport.[9]

In July 2013, it was reported that the military was no longer controlling the day-to-day operations of the airport. It was reported that the decision to control the airport had been rescinded by the SANDF.[10]

Mthatha Airport was again placed under military control temporarily following the death of Nelson Mandela on 5 December 2013, as his state funeral was to be held in the nearby rural village of Qunu where he grew up.[11][12][13] Mthatha Airport was converted into a no-fly zone reserved for heads of state attending the funeral.[11] Other VIPs and members of the public attending the funeral were advised to fly to Port Elizabeth Airport and East London Airport instead.[14] On 14 December 2013, Mandela's body was flown from Air Force Base Waterkloof near Pretoria to Mthatha Airport for his funeral and burial.[15][16]

Upgrades[edit]

In an initial phase of upgrades to the airport to improve infrastructure, an expanded 14/32 runway was completed in May 2013, allowing larger aircraft to service the airport. On 30 May 2013, an aircraft operated by SA Airlink was the first to land on the expanded runway.[3][17] The new runway cost R490 million to complete.[18]

On 22 November 2013, President Jacob Zuma visited the airport to inspect the runway upgrade. He said that planned future upgrades to the airport included a new terminal building, a new lit helipad, new runway approach lights, a new road, and upgrades to the hangars. A R200 million tender was advertised for a contractor to build a new terminal building.[18]

On 28 January 2014, Mthatha Airport gave the Ruwacon contracting firm the task of upgrading the airport's facilities. Ruwacon is expected to construct a new passenger terminal, a rental car facility with accommodations for parking and washing vehicles, a refuelling station, a security fence, and roadways. The first phase of the airport upgrades project is expected to be completed in early 2015.[3][19]

The next two phases of the airport upgrades include the addition of commercial and retail facilities, and new cargo facilities.[3][17][19]

Airlines and destinations[edit]

Airlines Destinations
Airlink Johannesburg–O. R. Tambo
Fly Blue Crane Johannesburg–O. R. Tambo, (suspended)[20]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "MTHATHA (K. D. MATANZIMA) FAUT Aerodrome Chart" (PDF). South African Civil Aviation Authority. 24 July 2014. Archived from the original on 4 October 2014. Retrieved 4 October 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "IATA Airport Code Search (UTT: Umtata / K.D. Matanzima)". International Air Transport Association. Retrieved 17 June 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Construction of bigger runway at Mthatha airport complete". South African Broadcasting Corporation. 31 May 2014. Archived from the original on 12 September 2014. Retrieved 12 September 2014. 
  4. ^ "FAUT – MTHATHA (K. D. MATANZIMA)" (PDF). South African Civil Aviation Authority. Effective 7 July 2005. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 December 2008.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  5. ^ "SANDF takes over Mthatha Airport". 21 May 2012. Archived from the original on 12 September 2014. 
  6. ^ Wingrin, Dean (7 November 2012). "SAAF aircraft leaves runway at Mthatha". The Unofficial website on the South African Air Force. Archived from the original on 12 September 2014. Retrieved 12 September 2014. 
  7. ^ "C/N 11925". The Dakota Association of South Africa. Archived from the original on 12 September 2014. Retrieved 12 September 2014. 
  8. ^ "SANDF: Mandela crew not in crash". News24. South African Press Association (SAPA). 8 November 2014. Archived from the original on 12 September 2014. Retrieved 12 September 2014. 
  9. ^ "Eleven killed in plane crash: SANDF". Times Live. SAPA. 6 December 2012. Archived from the original on 5 October 2014. Retrieved 5 October 2014. 
  10. ^ Helfrich, Kim (9 July 2013). "SANDF not part of Mthatha airport management". defenceWeb. Archived from the original on 12 September 2014. Retrieved 12 September 2014. 
  11. ^ a b Maphumulo, Solly (12 December 2013). "Security tightens at Qunu". The Star. Archived from the original on 3 October 2014. Retrieved 3 October 2014. 
  12. ^ Binqose, Unathi (12 December 2013). "Mandela family members start arriving in Qunu". SABC News. Archived from the original on 4 October 2014. Retrieved 4 October 2014. 
  13. ^ "Mthatha airport hive of activity". News24. SAPA. 13 December 2013. Archived from the original on 12 September 2014. Retrieved 12 September 2014. 
  14. ^ "Mthatha airport exclusive for VVIPs". IOL News. SAPA. 8 December 2013. Archived from the original on 12 September 2014. Retrieved 12 September 2014. 
  15. ^ "Plane bearing Mandela's body arrives in Mthatha". City Press. SAPA. 14 December 2013. Archived from the original on 12 September 2014. Retrieved 12 September 2014. 
  16. ^ "Mthatha gears up for Madiba's arrival". EWN. 14 December 2013. Archived from the original on 4 October 2014. Retrieved 4 October 2014. 
  17. ^ a b Velaphi, Sithandiwe (25 November 2013). "Zuma thrilled by Mthatha Airport's development". The New Age. Archived from the original on 12 September 2014. Retrieved 12 September 2014. 
  18. ^ a b "Mthatha airport site handed over". IOL News. SAPA. 28 January 2014. Archived from the original on 12 September 2014. Retrieved 12 September 2014. 
  19. ^ http://www.kimberley.co.za/city/fly-blue-crane/

External links[edit]