Project Description

O.R. Tambo International Airport

Client: Airports Company South Africa (ACSA)

L&B was commissioned as lead consultants by ACSA to simultaneously update the master plans for the ultimate development of both O.R. Tambo (ORTIA) and King Shaka International Airports (KSIA) in Johannesburg and Durban respectively.

L&B’s extensive knowledge and experience in the region supported in providing our client with a range of alternative runway configurations and solutions for long term development.

ORTIA is the largest airport in Africa and a dominant regional hub, serving as the home base for South African Airways, a significant regional player.

Maintenance of ample capacity for the future is therefore of paramount importance to the city region. Its regional importance is underscored by the fact that it was one the first airports in the world with daily A380 flights to Europe including several double daily flights to the likes of London, Dubai and other major centres.

The airport also has several unique characteristics.

  • At over 5000ft above sea level, it is similar to Mexico City, one of the highest large-scale airports in the world.
  • For many years it has been the port of some of the longest city pair flights in the world e.g. JNB-ATL, JNB-JFK, JNB-SYD, JNB-PEK.
  • Being a regional gateway hub, the airport has a vastly variable fleet mix, ranging from A380s down to regular scheduled operations with small turboprops such as J41s.
  • Summer time can lead to very high temperatures.

In combination, these factors point to complex airside/airfield challenging conditions requiring long take off distances and high approach speeds, coupled with the need to carefully sequence various aircraft sizes.

ORTIA also faces the challenge that its original terminal precinct is located outside the runway system. A vast midfield precinct is available, guaranteeing ample land availability for future development, yet much sunken investment has been made in the existing (Western) precincts.

Already serviced with a high end and high speed airport rail service to the existing precinct, finding the optimum ultimate layout that unlocks gradual midfield development, without undue harm to previous investments was the key challenge.

The key objectives from the client also included a process that is strong on stakeholder consultation and inclusivity, hence a series of ‘indabas’ were conducted.

Photography: DigitalGlobe via Google Earth