George Airport remains closed for operation under lockdown Level 3. This has resulted in a continued struggle for the Garden Route District, who relies heavily on air travel for incoming and outgoing economic operations.
Now, David Maynier, Western Cape MEC for Finance and Economic Opportunities, is calling for the reopening of George Airport, since it has not been listed as one of the airports permitted to open on Level 3.
The Department of Transport are implementing a phased reopening of Airports. These include the major international airports in the country.
Maynier said that he had written to the Minister of Transport Fikile Mbaula “to request an urgent re-consideration of this decision.”
“Considering the significant role this airport plays in providing access to the Garden Route District for many business travellers across South Africa, this is bad for business at a time when we should be doing everything we can to open the economy safely and responsibly in the Western Cape,” said Maynier in a statement.
According to Maynier, prior to lockdown George Airport had received approximately 55 000 incoming travellers per month on average, about 40% of which were business related.
In addition, professionals in the Garden Route District commute weekly via air travel. Professionals including engineers and tradesmen “need to visit worksites at important business nodes in the Garden Route District, such as the Port of Mossel Bay where Total’s offshore oil and gas project is located. ”
Others who are struggling due to the continued closure of George Airport include aviation and logistics service providers who, at present, are unable to charter or provide air freight services to their clients, and accommodation businesses who are not longer receiving customers due to the lack of incoming business travellers.
“Businesses in George and the Greater Knysna region are heavily dependent on business travellers having access via the George airport. To not allow the airport to open during Alert Level 3 will mean continued hardship with likely job losses and business closures as a result. We believe these negative impacts can be prevented if the George Airport is allowed to open swiftly,” said Maynier.
Picture: Facebook / George Airport