News / South Africa

Alex Japho Matlala
2 minute read
19 Oct 2021
7:10 am

Rejoicing as Polokwane airport opens

Alex Japho Matlala

The move was welcomed by both authorities and airline users as likely to swell the province’s economy.

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

There was jubilation in Limpopo on Monday after Polokwane International Airport resumed commercial flights for the first time after five months.

The move was welcomed by both authorities and airline users as likely to swell the province’s economy.

“The future of Limpopo looks vivid since the reinstatement of the airport from category seven to two,” said Limpopo economic development, environment and tourism MEC Thabo Mokone during the official reopening.

The airport was closed in April this year by the South African Civil Aviation Authority (Sacca) following serious security findings, which needed urgent attention.

Mokone said the closure of the airport had negatively affected the local economy.

He said during the holidays, Limpopo’s road transport was also negatively affected.

“We had a serious surge in road accidents in the province over the past holidays.”

He said Limpopo was a tourist destination of choice and was also used by holidaymakers as a onestop shop between South Africa and neighbouring countries.

He added that the province was also used as a gateway for Maphungubwe and Kruger National Park.

“Now that [the airport] is opened, the province’s economy is bound to thrive,” said Mokone. Joseph Moila, who works in a car rental business at the airport, was also jubilant.

“We had to close shops when the airport was downgraded.

“Throughout the months, we had to bask in the sun every morning with our wives and children, [living] from hand to
mouth.

ALSO READ: Polokwane airport closure costs R17 million

“But now the future looks bright and we believe we will have a better Christmas,” said the ecstatic Moila.

Speaking during the reopening, transport MEC Mavhungu Lerule Ramakhanya said the resumption of commercial flights in Polokwane would unlock the province’s economic fortunes and contribute positively to the tourism sector, which had suffered major devastation during the closure and the devastating Covid pandemic.

Limpopo premier Stanley Mathabatha was also elated.

He urged people to take advantage of the reopening of the airport, saying it was a step into the right direction.

Mathabatha said air transport was convenient, safe and quick and urged the people of Limpopo to use the facility in an effort to improve lives and swell the local economy.

During the closure of the airport, the province lost R17 million.