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Tue 5 December 2023
Airlink upgrades aircraft at Richard Bay Airport due to growing passenger and cargo demand

Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) congratulates Airlink on the upgrade of their aircraft at Richards Bay Airport, in KwaZulu-Natal, due to increased demand for both passenger and cargo services. pleased to note that regional airline

Airlink will be upgrading to a larger aircraft, transitioning from the 29-seater British Aerospace Jetstream 41 (J41) to the 75-seater Embraer ERJ 170 (E170). The airline currently operates flights between Richards Bay and more than 45 destinations within South Africa.

ACSA has partnered with the Umhlathuze Municipality through a multi-year contract to manage the Richards Bay Airport after it remained closed for close to two years. The partnership will see the transfer of skills among others, as well as bringing much-needed revitalisation of the local economy through the optimisation of the transport infrastructure, where ACSA will play a pivotal role.

The growing demand for passenger and cargo services at Richards Bay Airport has seen Airlink's fleet operating at full capacity, necessitating the upgrade. Since resuming in September 2022

Since the reopening of the airport post-COVID-19, Airlink was the only carrier that returned to operate out of Richards Bay, servicing the Johannesburg-Richards Bay route, out of the three that previously operated from Richards Bay.

ACSA's recovery is largely driven by the rapid turnaround in domestic travel, which underscores the importance of this market's contribution to our business. In October 2023, 2 800 passengers were processed through the airport, which indicates a 230% increase since the airport re-opened its doors for business.

ACSA notes that the aircraft upgrade is not only a milestone for Airlink but also crucial for the airport and the community of uMhlathuze. With the increased seating capacity, there will be more opportunities for travel and enhanced cargo movement.

But of more significance for Airports Company of South Africa, is the alignment with the principles stated in the White Paper on National Civil Aviation Policy:

"Airport development should not be considered in isolation, but be integrated into all national, provincial, and municipal economic and spatial development initiatives. At the same time, airport development should also meet the social needs and objectives of local communities. There should therefore be synergy between airport development and the development strategies of all spheres of government," says ACSA Regional General Manager, Nkosinathi Myataza.

Richards Bay Local Airport Manager, Langa Ndebele says "Richards Bay Airport is an important airport in the region, facilitating the movement of goods and passengers from an economic hub of some considerable force and the role that the airport is playing in the continued economic development of this region is significant.

The commencement of flights to and from Richards Bay is adding positive value to growing businesses in the city and also contributing to the success of the region's leisure and tourism sector."

"This is a positive development that speaks to the robust and steady recovery of the domestic aviation sector. We wish Airlink all the best and may they see further growth and expansion in the future," concludes Mr Ndebele. 

Footnote:

ACSA was appointed by the City of Mhlathuze for the Airport Management Services of Richards Bay Airport, for the term of 5 years starting in May 2021 until April 2026.

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