GEORGE NEWS - A meeting was held last Thursday, 31 October, at Fancourt to discuss the possibility of arranging earlier and more frequent flights to and from George.
Amongst the people attending were Sifiso Nkawu, Comair alliances and regulatory affairs manager; Cilliers Jordaan, Comair revenue and scheduling manager; Leroy Ferreira, Fancourt corporate sales manager; Dr Dennis Farrell, chairperson of the George Business Chamber; Brenda Vorster, George Airport manager; Rod Rutter, well-known expert of the travel industry; and the organiser of the meeting, Louwrens Selzer of Securitas. George Herald was invited to attend as an observer.
Amongst the matters discussed were George Airport operating hours, plans for expansion at the George Airport and the possibility of connecting with business chambers.
It was emphasised that not only George, but the whole Garden Route, will benefit from increased flights.
More flights needed
Vorster gave an overview and history of the airport. She said it was originally built to handle 700 000 passengers per year, but at the moment it is handling more than 800 000. With statistics showing continued growth, she said, expansion plans are in the pipeline.
She pointed out that 52% of the passengers at the airport fly for business purposes and 48% for leisure, but that the dynamics will change if the area receives metro status in the future.
Farrel said that many people are retiring to the area, bringing a lot of traffic and changing the dynamics of the Garden Route. He also said that cargo transport should be considered. This area is the biggest exporter of berries which is currently transported by road to Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.
After the meeting he added that the number of business commuters from George to Gauteng and Cape Town destinations is increasing, with representatives of local government and corporate officials also travelling to Cape Town. Farrell said the George Business Chamber encourages discussions with different airlines to fill the space required.
Selzer welcomed the fact that a delegation from Comair attended the meeting. He has been advocating since 2014 for earlier and more frequent flights. He said there is a growing need in the corporate market for more flights.
For people flying to Johannesburg on a specific day it can be frustrating that they cannot return the same day, but have to overnight there due to the lack of flights or awkward flight times. He said effort is being made to include other airlines in the discussions.
Comair indicated that it will release a press statement in due course. A follow-up meeting is expected to take place later.
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