Scheduled Flights For Plett, Knysna Before Year-end
Indiza operations director Riaan Cilliers told meetings of residents, business people and interested parties in both towns that the goal to resume scheduled passenger flights between Plett and Johannesburg by November this year – in time for the peak holiday season – was firmly on track.
“We are looking at eight flights per week over the holiday season, with the additional flight over the weekend or possibly on Monday morning.”
The news will be welcomed by a number of businessmen who return to their homes and families in Plett and Knysna for weekends while working in Joburg through the week, eliminating the 90-minute drive to and from George Airport.
Cilliers said a number of airlines had expressed interest in providing a daily service to Plett, with the possibility that passenger routes to Port Elizabeth and Cape Town could also be introduced.
The runway could presently accommodate aircraft capable of carrying around 30-35 passengers, but it would be extended should there be demand for larger planes.
Cilliers said Indiza, which already runs the Richards Bay, Pietermaritzburg and Virginia airports, was keen to encourage general aviation activities like Plett’s parachuting and flight school companies, which have limped along under difficult circumstances.
He said Indiza would pump between R10-million and R15-million into the airport upgrade over the next few years, while funding from the provincial treasury and development institutions would be sought if the runway was extended, which would cost around R50-million.
Cilliers also promised that wherever possible Indiza would use local contractors for the construction work required for the airport upgrade, and train and employ locals to fill the 200-odd jobs which would become available as the project unfolded.
There was also the possibility that the sand road through Harkerville forest would be tarred to give passengers direct access to the airport from the N2 highway.
Bitou acting municipal manager Thys Giliomee said the town was not looking to make money out of the airport lease in recognition of the considerable benefits the project would bring, but the aerodrome would also cease to burden ratepayers with its expenses once Indiza took over.
“The idea is to allow the operator to run a successful airport. The important thing to us is the return of scheduled passenger flights to our town,” Giliomee said.
Garden Route Media / Author: Neil Oelofse for CXPress