Tag: OR Tambo

OR Tambo in fuel crisis

By Carin Smith for News24

Following flood damage to railways in KwaZulu-Natal, transporting jet fuel from Durban to the OR Tambo International Airport by rail will likely only be 100% restored by the end of October this year, Airports Company SA (ACSA) said on Monday.

The airport is currently suffering a shortage of fuel supplies as a result.

Currently there are about 3.5 days’ supply at OR Tambo. A supply of five or more days is usually regarded as “more comfortable”, ACSA CEO Mpumi Mpofu said during a briefing on Monday afternoon.

Due to a shortage of jet fuel supplies, two airlines have temporarily cancelled flights. One international airline cancelled operations from 24 April to 1 May – a total 14 flights and about 3 150 passengers impacted. Another airline cancelled its flights on 24 April only, impacting about 100 passengers.

“While overall stock levels are stable [at OR Tambo], certain suppliers impacted by a declared force majeure [due to flood impacts] are still unable to acquire the quantities of jet fuel they require. Airlines do not use the same fuel supplier, and as a result not all are equally impacted,” explained Mpofu.

Some airlines have resorted to refueling in Durban and even Windhoek. Mpofu emphasised that there isn’t a fuel crisis at any of ACSA’s other airports in the country.

On Monday, the Department of Minerals and Energy and the Central Energy Fund (CEF) said they were working at providing about 1.5 million litres of jet fuel to OR Tambo in case of a “mismatch” between supply and demand at the OR Tambo airport.

“Our plan B is to ensure that, if an airline cannot get fuel from its normal supplier, the CEF stock kicks in,” said Mpofu.

A consignment of jet fuel by ship has arrived at the Durban port and is being pumped into the National Petroleum Refiners South Africa (NATREF) refinery. It is currently the only refinery in the country that produces jet fuel. About 70% of jet fuel used in SA is imported.

Meanwhile, ACSA was informed by Transnet Freight Rail that it expects its full rail capacity between Durban and the airport to be fully restored by 30 October this year. Transnet expects at least 50% of its normal rail capacity from the coast will be restored by about 9 June. Jet fuel is also transported from Durban to OR Tambo via a pipeline.

By Jan Vermeulen for MyBroadband 

Immigration systems were offline at Terminal B at OR Tambo International Airport on Sunday, causing huge delays for passengers.

Passengers boarding international flights were all funnelled through the security and passport control queues behind the check-in desks of Terminal A. The queue stretched out of Terminal A, all the way through a door that is usually kept closed, to Terminal B.

As travellers were checking the time and nervously watching the queue, airport staff started moving up and down the line searching for passengers who didn’t have long to make their flights.

There were a few staff who were not on an official assignment, however, but hunting for opportunity.

Three passengers and I were ushered to the next terminal by an airport staff member who said she was going to help us get to our flights.

“You need to tip me for helping you,” she said as we walked, and we laughed. It turned out I was the only one who thought it was a joke.

Our helper pushed us through the massive line of passengers towards the special processing area for crew and assisted passengers. When she was well ahead of us, one of the travellers with me said that she was serious about the “tip”.

“This is South Africa,” he said with a shrug.

OR Tambo chaos due to immigration downtime zoomed

Upon arriving at the crew and assisted passengers queue, the line was so congested that our helper was directed to use a special door that gives access to the front of the queue at the standard security check.

She pushed us into the normal security queue and said that she would meet us after we cleared passport control. This struck me as strange.

I walked through Duty Free and to the gate. A different staff member then said to me: “Hey, aren’t you flying to Madrid?”

“Yes,” I said, wondering whether checked-in passengers were already being called to board.

He started calling a name – the woman who had helped us get through immigration on time to make our flights.

“I want my tip,” she said.

“Tip?” I asked.

“Did you think I was doing it out of the kindness of my heart, helping you through?”

I was incredulous. “I thought you were getting us to our planes on time. Your job. I’m a frequent traveller and no one has ever asked for money to help get me through immigration on time.”

“This was your first time? So you’re not going to give me a tip?” she asked, angry.

“No. It’s very unusual,” I said.

“Well. Good luck.” she said.

As she walked away, she dialled a number and put her phone to her ear – and I was worried she would call in a favour to inconvenience me.

I was worried for nothing, however. I was able to board my flight without incident, and it even managed to depart on time – despite the problems at passport control.

As for my “helper” – the last I saw she was pacing around the Duty Free area, talking on her phone.

Airport responds
OR Tambo has issued a statement following this report, saying it would ensure that it cracked down on employees who ask passengers and airport visitors for tips.

Oppenheimers given private terminal go-ahead

Fireblade Aviation can operate a private international terminal at OR Tambo International Airport, the North Gauteng High Court has ruled.

The ruling, made on Friday, grants permission to the aviation company, owned by the Oppenheimer family, to run a private customs and immigration service at OR Tambo International Airport for business people.

This comes after a court battle launched by Fireblade Aviation in November 2016, against the department of Home Affairs and others.

The South African Revenue Service (SARS) and state-owned defence company Denel, from which Fireblade would lease the premises both opposed the application.

The application sought to have the court declare that approval for the terminal – allegedly granted by then-Home Affairs minister Malusi Gigaba in early 2016 – could not be renounced.

Gigaba, now the minister of finance, previously denied claims by the Oppenheimers that he had approved their application for a port of entry.

“I wish to state categorically that at no stage have I ever approved such application as alleged by the family,” he said in a statement issued by the department in January 2017.

But the judgment indicated that on January 28 2016 Gigaba had, in fact, granted his approval for the business terminal, only to later suspend it “until further notice” on the basis of security concerns by Denel.

This ‘suspension’ was revealed in an internal memo dated 5 February, 2016.

Judge Sulet Potterill ruled that Gigaba’s approval from January 2016 was still in force. According to the judgment the ministerial approval may not be renounced or revoked by the minister without any due cause.

The judgment clarified that Gigaba’s original approval may be “implemented and relied upon” by the applicant, Fireblade.

Lifetime ambition

The Home Affairs department, SARS and Denel are to pay the costs of the litigation. The department of Home Affairs said it would study the judgment and make an announcement on the steps it will take.

In a statement issued on Monday, meanwhile, the EFF condemned the “exclusive access” granted to Fireblade Aviation, and criticised such a port for VVIPs – or Very Very Important Persons – of further driving exclusion and marginalisation.

On its website Fireblade states that the services it provides to clients at OR Tambo include international and domestic arrivals and departures, VIP ground handling services, apron parking, hangar parking, airport fees and refueling.

“Fireblade Aviation is the culmination of the Oppenheimer Family’s lifetime ambition to host a world class facility for business aviation at O. R. Tambo International Airport,” states the website’s landing page.

“We have both a full range business terminal and a charter division that, between them, cater to all your flying needs.”

By Lameez Omarjee for Fin24

Suspected bogus police stole an estimated $15-million (R194,2-million) in cash in a daring late night robbery at Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International Airport.

The heist occurred when “police” stopped GuardForce personnel as they were transporting the money to an awaiting flight bound for London on Tuesday night.

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