Business Maverick

Airports Company South Africa

Cape Town International Airport is ready for foreign visitors

Cape Town International Airport is ready for foreign visitors
A quiet check-in desk at the Cape Town International Airport where the Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula conducted an inspection ahead of the reopening of international travel on 1 October. (Photo: Suné Payne)

With international travel set to resume following the ban on international travel at the start of South Africa’s Covid-19 lockdown in March, all systems are in place – all the Airports Company South Africa is waiting for is the list of countries from which visitors will be allowed.

Cape Town International Airport is ready to resume international travel, says the CEO of Airports Company South Africa (Acsa), Mpumi Mpofu. During lockdown, the airport’s income had been “decimated”, she said. With international travel resuming in October, things are looking up. 

Mpofu spoke to Daily Maverick as Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula inspected the airport’s readiness to accept international travellers.

“From the 1st [of October] onwards, we can only grow,” said Mpofu, adding that apart from waiting for the list of countries from which visitors are allowed to travel, “we are good to go”. There have been applications from airlines to land in South Africa, but the airlines were also waiting for the approved list of countries of origin. 

Mpofu said SA airports had been “decimated” and it could take up to five years to recover the income lost during the Covid-19 lockdown. 

Listen to this voice clip by Mpofu explaining the airport’s cash crunch and the recovery plans over the next few months: 


Mpofu told Daily Maverick about the future of the airport and how Covid-19 affected these plans: 

“If there’s a lesson we’ve learnt from Covid, it is that airports are exciting places but they need not be passenger revenue related – and that’s exactly the diversification strategy we’re going to be taking forward so that we continue to be financially viable.” 

Cape Town International Airport, along with OR Tambo and King Shaka International, will be the only SA airports allowed to accept foreign travellers when international travel resumes on 1 October, said President Cyril Ramaphosa this month. Following Ramaphosa’s announcement, Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma said other ministers would be announcing the new regulations. 

International travel to resume as SA moves to Level One

According to a media advisory sent out this week, Mbalula was supposed to announce new travel regulations and directives while doing an inspection of the airport’s facilities. This was his third visit to airports – he had previously visited OR Tambo and King Shaka to inspect their readiness. 

Despite being an hour late for the briefing, Mbalula did not announce new regulations, but only inspected the airport’s facilities. When pressed for information on the regulations, he would only say that the department was “looking at” opening up more train lines, including the resumption of long-distance services and increasing load capacity for long-distance taxi operations. 

He said that the department was “looking at every country from Dubai… next week we’ll announce that”. The Department of Transport is working with the departments of health, home affairs, and international relations and cooperation to determine the countries from which travellers would be allowed. 

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula, accompanied by officials such as Acsa CEO Mpumi Mpofu, left, speaks to the media at the readiness inspection of the Cape Town International Airport. (Photo: Suné Payne)

When asked about the new regulations, Mbalula said: “Before the 1st of October you’ll know.” 

During the inspection, Mpofu told Daily Maverick the airport is expecting 180,000 visitors on 820 flights during October. 

Two initiatives announced by the airport were the introduction of thermal scanners that can detect passengers with high temperatures when they pass through scanning stations, and converting into an e-system, which will ease the travelling system for travellers. 

After being taken on a tour of the airport’s thermal detectors, screening sections and sanitising stations, Mbalula declared the airport ready to accept international travel. 

Mbalula is expected to reveal the new travel regulations next week, before international travel reopens on 1 October. DM


"Information pertaining to Covid-19, vaccines, how to control the spread of the virus and potential treatments is ever-changing. Under the South African Disaster Management Act Regulation 11(5)(c) it is prohibited to publish information through any medium with the intention to deceive people on government measures to address COVID-19. We are therefore disabling the comment section on this article in order to protect both the commenting member and ourselves from potential liability. Should you have additional information that you think we should know, please email [email protected]"

Comments - Please in order to comment.

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted