Fireblade Aviation, owned by the Oppenheimer family, processed its first international flights last week at the private Fireblade terminal at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport.

On October 27 last year, the Pretoria High Court ruled in favour of Fireblade Aviation, giving it the green-light to operate a private international terminal at Ortia.

“The seven-star facility successfully handled international tourists arriving in South Africa. This marks the culmination of years of effort following a rigorous approval process and is a significant milestone for Fireblade, the South African aviation sector and South Africa’s high-end tourism industry,” the company said in a statement.

This means that the terminal can now process international flights in and out of Fireblade, along with domestic movements, which the company has been doing since August 2014, says Duncan Butcher, Legal Adviser at E. Oppenheimer & Son (Pty) Ltd/Fireblade Aviation (Pty) Ltd.

Jonathon Oppenheimer, CEO of Fireblade Aviation said: “We are excited to service international movements, which will complement our current domestic aircraft movements and enable Fireblade Aviation to fulfil its intended potential. We encourage all privately owned and chartered aircraft to use the Fireblade terminal when flying to Johannesburg and South Africa.”

 Officials, such as the Department of Home Affairs (DHA), the South African Revenue Service (SARS), and the South African Police Service (SAPS) were on-site at the terminal to provide the required government clearance for the international flights.

“The handling of these arrivals at the Fireblade terminal is done through a sterile customs and immigration facility adjacent to the business lounge, designed by and under the strict control of government officials,” read the statement.

Airports Company of South Africa commented: “There are several benefits to having fully operational international border control capabilities at Fireblade. Our main terminal at Ortia will be freed up for additional capacity when commercial business aviation can use the Fireblade terminal. Runway crossings will be reduced, which will both improve safety and reduce time for departing and arriving aircraft. There is also a need for the premium services offered by Fireblade at the largest airport in Africa since the lack of these facilities currently affects our reputation and brand.”

 “We have had quite a few international arrivals and departures since then… It is all working very well,” concluded Butcher.