GEORGE NEWS - George Municipality continues to support George Airport in its ongoing efforts to be re-opened under Level 3 lockdown regulations.
Mayor Leon van Wyk has remained in contact with Western Cape Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities David Maynier, as well as Western Cape Minister of Health Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, over the past few weeks.
The matter has been brought under the attention of Western Cape Premier Alan Winde’s office for consideration and assistance on a national level.
Municipal Manager Trevor Botha noted with concern the impact of the continued closure of the airport upon our economy. “George has a number of residents who are employed in the metros and who commute via the airport to their places of business and employment. Business owners living in George are stranded and disengaged from their businesses located in Cape Town and Johannesburg,” said Botha.
“We want to appeal that consideration is given that George Airport be given approval to open. George Municipality commits to providing assistance and support regarding Covid-19 safety, hygiene and precautionary protective measures if so required.”
George Airport statistics issued by Airports Company SA indicate that, of approximately 55 000 passengers per month travelling through the George Airport prior to Covid-19 lockdown, 40% were business travellers. George Airport handled over 720 000 passengers in 2019, making it the seventh largest airport in South Africa. With 61 500 international passengers and 660 000 domestic passengers in 2019 it provides a gateway to the Garden Route.
It especially plays an important connecting role to Cape Town International Airport. Over 38% of passengers fly business class, which means George Airport’s business class to economy class passenger ratio is the second largest in South Africa - only surpassed by Lanseria. It is therefore not just a tourist destination, but plays a pivotal role in the economic functioning and well-being of the entire Southern Cape.
George Airport manager Brenda Vorster has clarified that all operational health and safety standards and Covid-19 protocols have been implemented at the airport, with the exception of a dedicated Port Health Official (PHO).
Wesgro CEO Tim Harris has requested the National Port Health Service to allocate a permanent PHO to assist in screening and testing passengers, which would allow George Airport to open for business and intra-provincial leisure travel under the current alert level.
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