Western Cape government officials are calling for George Airport to be reconsidered for opening at Level 3 to save businesses and jobs in the area.

Transport Minister, Fikile Mbalula, announced that domestic flights would be reinstated in three phases that were flexible and would be based on the readiness of airports.

Airports resuming domestic and cargo operations under phase one include OR Tambo, Cape Town, King Shaka and Lanseria international airports.

George Airport is not listed in either phase one or two but plays a significant role in providing access to the Garden Route, according to Western Cape Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, David Maynier.

“The average number of passengers through George Airport prior to the COVID-19 lockdown was around 55 000 per month, of which approximately 40% were business travellers,” he said.

Across the Garden Route district there are many business professionals who commute weekly via air travel to their places of work, for example engineers and tradesmen visiting worksites in Mossel Bay’s industrial complex.

Maynier added: “Given the number of business travellers that the George area normally receives, the continued closure of George Airport will mean that numerous accommodation businesses will not be able to benefit from being allowed to open under Level 3.”

Affected businesses range from those in George to the greater Knysna region and, as such, Maynier has written to Mbalula requesting urgent reconsideration of this decision. 

“We will continue to work hard to support business, and back business so that we can save jobs and save the economy in the Western Cape,” said Maynier.