News / South Africa

Alex Japho Matlala
2 minute read
7 Oct 2021
7:30 am

Polokwane airport closure costs R17 million

Alex Japho Matlala

The airport was closed in April after the Sacaa downgraded it from grade 7 to grade 2 – a move that saw the facility closing down indefinitely.

The empty Polokwane International Airport in Limpopo that has been downgraded from a category 7 to a category 2 airport. Picture: Jacques Nelles

The downgrade of the Polokwane International Airport has resulted in the Limpopo provincial government and its transport department losing about R17 million in revenue, The Citizen has learnt.

The South African Civil Aviation Authority (Sacaa) announced on Wednesday that the airport was due to reopen on 18 October.

The airport was closed in April after the Sacaa downgraded it from grade 7 to grade 2 – a move that saw the facility closing down indefinitely.

During the downgrade, the Sacaa claimed the reason for the closure was due to security findings. But on Wednesday, neither the Limpopo provincial department of transport and community safety, nor Sacaa could disclose those security findings.

“We can confirm that the airport is ready to go back to business. We have inspected all the shortfalls which led to the downgrade and found that the institution was compliant,” said Sacaa.

Sacaa spokesperson Marie Bray said the authority believed that an operational airport contributed to the economic activity in the surrounding areas and businesses.

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“There are also indirect business benefits for formal and informal business that supports the activity at airport,” said Bray. According to the provincial transport department, they have lost R17 million since the downgrade of the airport.

“We have two sectors of revenue in the airport. One is the aeronautical revenue and the other one is non aeronautical revenue. In the aeronautical revenue, the expected collection as at 30 September was R3 545 000.50.

But instead, we managed to collect only R50 000. This means the airport lost R3 495 000,” said spokesperson Mike Maringa yesterday.

“In non-aeronautical, the department had expected to collect R15 742 999.99. But that was not the case, we actually collected R2 193 784.96. This means we lost R13 549 215.03.

“In conglomeration, the department lost R13.3 million.”

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Although MEC for transport Mavhungu Lerule-Ramakhanya was disillusioned by the loss in revenue and the escalating number of job losses in the province, she was also ecstatic about the reopening of the airport.

“We welcome the reinstatement of commercial flights in the Polokwane International Airport.”

– news@citizen.co.za.