TRANSNET’s plan to build a multibillion rand dig-out port south of Durban will need to be altered if the municipality succeeds in negotiating a new home for the operators of its small-city airport on the site of the old international airport.
Transnet on Monday issued only a guarded response to reports that the eThekwini Municipality wanted to move the operators of the small Virginia general aviation airport in Durban North to the site of the old international airport south of the city.
However, Transnet wants the site for a dig-out port, one of two multibillion rand dig-outs — the other is at Bayhead. The port expansions are required over the next 50 years for an anticipated six-fold increase in container traffic at the Port of Durban.
"The old Durban International Airport site has been decommissioned as an airport. Transnet has not had discussions with anyone regarding the use of the site for aviation purposes," the utility said on Monday.
eThekwini Municipality is considering moving the Virginia Airport operators to the old Durban International Airport site to accommodate the overflow from King Shaka International Airport.
The Mercury newspaper reported on Monday the municipality intended to meet Transnet to discuss the possible relocation.
Operators at Virginia Airport have been uncertain about their future since the beginning of the year after the municipality informed them they would operate on month-to-month leases, while the tender for the management of the airport, held by Indiza Airport Management, also comes to an end this month.
Speculation about some of the other sites for the possible relocation of the operators of Virginia Airport have included Cato Ridge or King Shaka International Airport.
Many South Durban basin residents continue to oppose plans by the municipality to build freight and logistics infrastructure in their suburbs behind the port, which is required to cope with the expected increase in freight-related traffic arising from the port expansion.
But the port expansion diagrams Transnet has provided to the media, and shown in public presentations, have not included plans for a small general aviation airport.
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