Winelands' grand old lady gets ready for a facelift

The Cape Winelands’ Airport in South Africa is firming up its vision for the future …. and its vision is big and bold. The emerging ‘new’ airport sees itself as a key alternate airport for the Western Cape.

Nick Ferguson

Nick Ferguson: Cape Winelands' Airport is aiming to achieve international status and thus serve as a hub for regional, as well as domestic flights. Picture: Guy Leitch

The challenge facing airlines operating into the Western Cape is that Cape Town International is the only large airport within 200 nautical miles of Cape Town. Should Cape Town International’s runway be blocked, or the weather be below minimums, there is no alternate airport closer than George.

Nick Ferguson, the managing director of Cape Winelands Airport holding company rsa.AERO, points out that they are keen to make the airport available as a nominated alternate for part 121 Operations. This will save airlines a huge amount in terms of fuel carried for alternate airports for flight planning.

Ferguson points out that on a long-haul flight, an airliner will burn four tonnes of fuel to carry 10 tonnes of fuel. The reduced fuel load from being able to nominate a closer alternate will be a large saving to the airlines, and thus ultimately to travellers.

Ferguson also says that the airport is aiming to achieve international status and thus serve as a hub for regional, as well as domestic flights.

Deon Cloete is the new managing director of the Cape Winelands Airport. He reminds us that the airport is not really new, but is in fact 80 years old. He says, “It is a grand old lady, ready for redevelopment. Construction work on the first phase is expected to commence in early 2024.” This includes the development of a new runway with a Category three ILS.

Cloete says there will be a 3,500m long runway with no restrictions and a code E classification. It will thus be capable of accepting long-haul widebody aircraft.

General aviation will however not be squeezed out. There will be a cross runway for smaller aircraft.

The terminal buildings and infrastructure will be on the western side of the airport. Cloete says they are planning to start operating the first phase of the airport from 2027.

Guy Leitch

Guy Leitch

Guy is an aviation analyst in demand by South African TV, radio and print publications.