/ 14 October 2009

Govt decides against selling Durban airport to Comair

The government will not sell Durban International Airport to Comair, Business Report said on Wednesday.

Comair said earlier this week it wanted to buy the airport to compete with the new airport being built at La Mercy by Airports Company SA (Acsa).

Business Report quoted Transport Minister Sbu Ndebele as saying: ”You can’t have competition for La Mercy … It’s such an expensive

The new airport would start operating in May next year while the existing airport would continue to operate alongside La Mercy airport during the Soccer World Cup. It would then be closed.

Monhla Hlahla, the chief executive of state-owned Acsa, was quoted as saying: ”When we say closing Durban International we mean closing the aviation business.”

According to Ndebele the land has been earmarked for industrial use.

Meanwhile, Business Report said the department of transport had confirmed this week it had received a letter from Comair, which was
one of several offers that had come through for the south Durban site.

Acsa reportedly wants R3-billion for the property.

The newspaper quoted Gidon Novick, the joint chief executive at Comair, as saying earlier this week the airline did not want to fly from the new airport being built at La Mercy as it was too far from Durban.

”The current airport is 20km from the city centre and the new one is 45km,” Novick said. – Sapa