MARGATE, KwaZulu-Natal - It’s been a year since Margate Airport on KwaZulu-Natal’s south coast resumed its commercial operations.
It's part of government’s air transport strategy which aims to use regional airports to grow the economy.
Air traffic controller Josephine Stott has worked here for 25 years.
She’s seen the facility at its best and its worst – and is quick to clear up confusion that it ever shut down.
“The only difference has been that we haven't always had a scheduled flight, but we've had...corporate traffic in, private traffic in, and that sort of thing. You know, a couple of guys who tried to start up. We had Spurr Wing came in for a while and then Studio 88 flew for a while and so we've had quite a few attempts at running a scheduled service," said Stott.
The latest operator is CemAir.
Its 19-seater aircraft flies between Margate and Johannesburg daily.
The agreement with the airline came after the provincial government pumped R140-million into nine regional airports last year -- and Margate was one of the beneficiaries.
It was the start of what backers describe as a successful public-private partnership.
"The concept aerotropilis KZN embraces not just King Shaka International Airport and Dube TradePort, it embraces all of these secondary hubs and secondary airports because within that there's a huge propensity for us to upscale, particularly in the area of freight cargo," Michael Mabuyakhulu.
The partial commercialisation of Margate Airport is also having a positive knock-on effect on tourism.
"It is now recreating platforms for us to really go really go stronger in terms of joint marketing with the airline and individually as an organisation, specifically for elements like golf tourism, corporate golf days, corporate things, the conference market, the business tourism market. So Johannesburg is a key market for us. Subsequently, access comes through. Guy comes on a golf tour, takeoff to tee-off, he's teeing off within two hours," Justin Mackrory, South Coast Tourism CEO said.
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