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MBABANE – The recently opened King Mswati III International Airport is now closed to the public. The Swaziland Civil Aviation Authority (SWACAA) says the new airport is not a museum or mall where people visit and spend time sightseeing.

Director Solomon Dube said the airport, which he described as world- class, had generated huge interest from members of the public who want to visit for leisure. These included schools and tour guides who had filed requests with his office to visit the airport.
Dube said even though the airport was officially commissioned by His Majesty the King, it remained closed to the public and no visitors were allowed. 
He said no visitors were allowed yet due to security reasons as well.

“This is not a museum or a mall where people could come in and leisurely stroll while sightseeing,” he said.
With no airline flying into Swaziland to use the new airport yet, Dube said there was no need for it to be used as a tourist destination.

“Everyone should cool down and stay away from the airport for now. This arrangement goes in line with the call from His Majesty the King, who said it should be kept in sublime condition,” he said. Dube said letting people in, in droves into the facility could cause damage to some parts of the infrastructure, such as the ceramic tiles on the floor for the building.
“Ceramic tiles are expensive and their disproportionate use could damage them and it would cost us a lot of money to replace them. We also do not want the structure to age before passengers and airlines even use it,” he said. 
The Times SUNDAY visited the facility a week ago.

Reporters were denied entry to the airport by two uncompromising police officers who manned the entrance.
They said they were working on strict instructions that no one should be allowed inside, save for people who worked there.
The airport is under 24-hour guard by the Royal Swaziland Police who worked with private security firms to ensure that anxious visitors who were excited by the structure were kept out of the facility.
An officer told reporters that they (security officers) had been stationed in the airport way before it was opened.

Just when reporters were negotiating their entry into the airport, a BMW sedan with two passengers was stopped on its tracks by the uncompromising officers.
“We are here to visit the airport. We just want to see how it looks,” said the driver who was in the company of a female friend.
The couple was told to leave immediately, in no uncertain terms.
Meanwhile, Dube said only members of staff working at the facility were allowed entry. 

 “This is a world-class airport and the infrastructure inside is top class. Allowing people to come in just for a visit would result to the facility ageing faster before even being used by customers,” he said.
Worth noting is that visitors are allowed entry into the Matsapha International Airport.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) cautioned when the airport plan was announced in 2003, that the country could not afford and did not need the facility. The airport will require 400 000 passengers annually to break-even.
Only one airline, Swaziland Airlink, services the kingdom and transports 70 000 passengers annually.

The new airport was built to accommodate fully-laden jumbo jets and other large aircraft. The apron covers an area of about 300 metres by 192 metres. It was designed for operations involving two Code E aircraft (Boeing 747, Boeing 777 and Airbus 340) and three Code C aircraft (ERJ135).
The airport is located on flat terrain with good visibility. It was hailed as a strategic gateway to Swaziland and the surrounding region for tourism and business.

The 7 000 square metre passenger terminal can handle and process about 300 passengers an hour, while the parking area caters for 200 vehicles.
The three levels of the terminal building are: the ground floor consisting of the passenger concourse and baggage - handling facilities, the mezzanine - home to the airport staff offices - and first floor, which includes a passenger concourse and arrival and departure lounges.

Comments (5 posted):

Shanice on 06/04/2014 10:53:48
And then you expect to get to the vision 2022 by doing this???vele Swaziland is going nowhere if you're gonna come up with the most stupid excuse of tiles getting damaged!aseniyekele kufelela maswati! That's the worst and most stupid reason for closing the airport!that's supposed to be our tourists attraction and you close it cos we will damage tiles?musani nje kusigcilata,Swaziland is going down I tell you if you carry on like this
Outlaw Lungelo on 06/04/2014 11:16:33
The Airport is named after our King who holds everything in trust for us as HIS subjects but we are not allowed to visit it? Kumatima, kumatima impela
Nomkhosi dlamini on 06/04/2014 22:38:30
Its undestandable why they dont want visitors there but then again they should also understand that we are showing to be proud of our own world class airport that why we visit it before it's fully operational.most Swazis are poor we don't fly out so we will end up not knowing the airport if we are not given a chance
sting on 06/04/2014 23:35:14
I am not suprised at all!
joncr on 09/04/2014 23:34:03
If airlines ever actually fly into the place, this policy will seriously annoy people who need to enter the airport to meet arriving passengers.

Seems to me it is pretty much an admission that the airport won't be used and to mothball it in pristine condition.

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