At first glance, an airport may appear to be simply a commercial venture that supplies infrastructure, facilities and management to facilitate air travel. Historically, such an enterprise would have been measured against its financial results: was it profitable or not?
Today, the rules have been rewritten and success of any venture is measured against financial, social and environmental parameters. This is particularly relevant for an airport, for its mere existence has a profound effect upon the region it serves. An airport's commercial importance is immediately apparent, providing a transport hub for business, leisure and tourism travel, as well as a means of rapid transport for low volume, high value commodities.
Environmental impacts of an airport are complex and varied and require professional, specialised skills to mitigate and manage them. The mere existence of an airport implies addressing complex and associated social responsibilities with relationship to communities adjacent to the airport. Airports Company South Africa has a responsible strategy to address environmental issues.
The issue of social impacts is more complex, especially as most of the company's nine airports are coincidentally located in regions containing high levels of impoverished communities. Commitment to making a positive difference to the quality of life for members of these communities is a common thread for all nine of Airports Company South Africa's airports.
Support for projects for the benefit of these communities extends far beyond 'cheque writing'. As more and more of the company's SED budget is devolved for distribution by individual airports, so has staff involvement in projects increased, year-by-year. It is gratifying to witness the extent to which company and stakeholder staff members recognise their privileged positions and are willing to give their time and energies to help improve the lot of people who do not have the same advantages.
For more information on airport specific Socio-Economic Development programmes, please click through the following: