OR Tambo International Airport has unveiled plans for a R4.5bn (€287m) development project that will see its Western Precinct acquire new offices, retail space, hotel and conference facilities and additional transit-related services.

“The Western Precinct development forms part of a strategy to expand our offering and to drive new sources of growth for the entire region,” said OR Tambo GM, Bongiwe Pityi-Vokwana at a ceremony for its Western Precinct development, an 8.5 hectare site.

The first of the seven phases, which commences this month, will see the construction of three six-storey office buildings, a fitness centre, a canteen, a crèche and corporate head office for Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) and the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA). This phase is scheduled for completion in 2020, and will create an estimated 1 100 jobs.

The long- term plan involves the construction of a mixed-use development that consists of a variety of buildings forming a boulevard at the international departures level, housing various retail stores, restaurants, cafés and bars. In addition, OR Tambo International Airport’s long-term infrastructure Master Plan features midfield passenger terminals, each requiring several billion rands in further investment. These developments will accommodate growing passenger demand.

The development will also improve the connectivity from the Gautrain station to existing hotels and facilities via pedestrian-friendly connections to the international terminal building.

Pityi-Vokwana added: “As the busiest airport in Africa and the international gateway to South Africa, it is imperative that OR Tambo International Airport remains an international landmark with world-class infrastructure and a large variety of services for all users and markets.”

At the same time, airport users will start to see upgrades to the existing terminal buildings. “We are entering a very exciting period in the life of our airport which supports about 38,000 jobs in and around the precinct,” added Pityi-Vokwana, who explained that ultimately the seven phases of the Western Precinct development would stretch from the site of the old Shade 2 carports in the north  up to where the Southern Sun Hotel is located.

She says the planned revamp of the airport’s façade will present an entirely new profile in keeping with its size and role in the regional and national economies. The iconic airport development precinct will serve as a catalyst in transforming the airport hub into an Aerocity. 

 “This node will be made more attractive by the intermodal connectivity offered by Gautrain and Bus Rapid Transport stations within a precinct, the ultimate development of which will allow for easy access to hotels, restaurants, fast-food facilities, outdoor seating, retail, offices and a world-class conference centre,” concluded Pityi-Vokwana.