NO SPACE FOR AIRLINES AT KM3
MBABANE –The King Mswati III International Airport (KM3 Airport) does not have enough office space to accommodate a single airline operator.
This recent discovery was made long after the construction of the airport was completed. What this meant was that there was only one standard office for each of the three airlines projected to use the facility.
The office space crisis is one of the reasons cited by Swaziland Airlink, a South African Airlink and Swazi Government joint venture airline operator, as a major issue that needs to be addressed before relocating its operations to the facility.
Teddy Mavuso the General Manager of the airline, said his company was offered only one office, when told to move to the airport.
He said under normal circumstances, they required in excess of six offices.
“We presently occupy six offices at the Matsapha International Airport. Therefore, moving our services to a single office, would be impossible,” Mavuso said.
He said Swaziland Airlink was a fully- fledged airline, which had been in operation in the country for many years.
Therefore, it is not possible to relocate to a single office when the airline has so many departments.
The shortage of enough office space for airlines is just another major defect noted at the newly-completed airport.
The airport was opened in March amid pomp and ceremony and even graced by His Majesty the King.
However, it still does not have hangars.
Hangars are a major component and requirement for airports.
A hangar is a closed structure used to hold aircraft or spacecraft in protective storage.
Hangars are used to protect aircraft from the weather elements and for maintenance, repairs, manufacture and assembly, among other things.
Hangers aside, the airport was also discovered to have had no taxiway.
This was constructed from dates close to the official opening of the airport.
Solomon Dube, Director of the Swaziland Civil Aviation Authority (SWACAA) conceded that there was only one space reserved for Swaziland Airlink at the KM3 airport.
He said his office was aware of the general shortage of office space at the airport.
He blamed this on the general plan of the infrastructure.
He said the problem was that the airport was constructed in stages.
Therefore, airline office space and other requirements at the airport fell under Phase Two of the airport project.
He also said the office space problem could be attributed to the fact that not all stakeholders made input in the planning stages for construction of the facility.
“Some stakeholders were invited to make contributions but they did not do so. It is due to this problem that some vital parts of the facility were only found to be missing towards the end of the construction phase of the project,” Dube said.
He said government would soon begin to construct an office park for the various airlines that will use the airport.
“This may not be possible though because we still have to convince the taxpayer that the facility is useful and functional. We cannot do that when we do not have an airline operating from there,” he said.
Commenting specifically on Swaziland Airlink’s concern, Dube said the company could run its operations from the single office allocated to the airline at the new airport.
He also said the company could still keep and use some of its offices at the Matsapha International Airport.