How to avoid a R2,000 fine when flying this holiday season

Airports Company of South Africa (Acsa) says it is putting measures in place to deal with the holiday peak as over one million people are expected to pass through Johannesburg OR Tambo International Airport alone in the coming weeks.

As air travel hobbles its way to pre-pandemic levels, domestic air capacity took a hit over the last year with multiple domestic carriers grounding planes. This has pushed ticket prices up and made it even more stressful for travellers looking to secure a trip down to the coast or overseas for a holiday.

According to Acsa, there was a 49% recovery of passenger throughput by 31 March this year, which prompted the company to start making specific upgrades to its airports in anticipation of a greater recovery in the sector.

The group now aims to make travelling as seamless as possible for both operators and travellers.

Acsa spokesperson Samukelo Khambule said that the company is focusing capital expenditure on infrastructure projects at airports, which includes technological improvements as well as cleaning and refurbishment projects.

The biggest airports in the portfolio – OR Tambo, King Shaka International Airport, and Cape Town International Airport – have seen several renovations being made alongside improvements to security systems, boarding bridges, taxiways and check-in-bays.

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Lighting, escalators, restaurants, and windows will also receive a thorough cleaning before being put back in operation, the group said.

Avoid a big fine

One of the most prominent renovations has been to OR Tambo International Airport’s parking system.

The airport has repurposed Parkade 2 North into a pickup point to deal with the expected influx of travellers. These parking areas can now be used for the pickup and drop-off of travellers or airport users.

However, the group warned that if drivers leave their cars unattended or exceed the grace period for drop-offs, they could face normal parking tariffs or a hefty R2,000 fine.

“We estimate that the average pickup and drop-off transaction can take up to five minutes; we advise passengers to take this into account as they plan their entry or exit from the airport,” Acsa said.

In light of the high number of travellers in South Africa’s major airports and the risk of complications arising, Acsa has put out a statement noting the best time to check in for a flight this festive season.

The company said that for domestic flights, passengers should arrive two hours before departure to complete check-in procedures and international passengers check in three hours before.

As we fast approach the festive season, please keep these airport arrival times for check-in top of mind. #Aviation #ACSA #FestiveReadiness

— Airports Company SA (@Airports_ZA) November 17, 2022

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Acsa is not alone in trying to improve air travel for South Africans. The South African Revenue Service (SARS) recently announced that it would be piloting an online declaration system at King Shaka International Airport on 29 November.

With the new system, travellers entering and exiting South Africa will be able to pre-declare things purchased, received, or otherwise obtained and pay appropriate taxes via a new web-based application.

SARS said the new approach would create a seamless process at ports of entry across the country.

Read: Big changes for airports in South Africa this holiday season

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