The Connectivity Benefits Of Locating At OR Tambo International Airport SEZ

Transport connectivity and its role in economic development 

The month of October has been declared as Transport Month in South Africa. A key input into economic activity, transport has a direct interface to any country’s GDP. This is because it is essential to the movement of goods and people, thus playing a central role in economic productivity. 

Specific to the OR Tambo International Airport SEZ, transport and logistics are at the centre of the SEZ’s offering. Located at the doorstep of sub-Saharan Africa’s largest and busiest airport, the value proposition of the OR Tambo International Airport SEZ is centred around the transport and logistical capabilities of OR Tambo International. The SEZ is also supported by the extensive land transport network available on the eastern corridor of the Gauteng City region. This makes it the ideal location for the production and export of goods from South Africa to regional and global markets. 

Transport and its key role in the success of an SEZ 

Whilst it is understood that any SEZ must be designed to encourage manufacturing output, an SEZ’s access to transport and logistics is central to its success. This is because a well-functioning transport system reduces the cost of moving goods and people around, thus increasing productivity, economic linkages, output and performance. 

The below unpacks the transport offering of the OR Tambo International Airport SEZ, same that is a key input in the SEZ’s offering. 

Unpacking OR Tambo International Airport SEZ’s transport Offering. 

Quality Infrastructure 

A good transport system must consider the quality and reliability of the infrastructure to enable the movement of goods and services. Located at and in proximity to OR Tambo International Airport, the transport offering of OR Tambo SEZ is mainly centred around OR Tambo International. 

With all the features of a global air hub (with long runways, terminals, baggage handling, lounges, food service areas and more) and measuring over 80 000m², OR Tambo International has two terminals and two runways that can service the movement of 220 000 aircrafts. The Airport also has the capacity to handle up to 28 million passengers annually. 

The quality of the Airport’s infrastructure has resulted in it being ranked among the top Airports globally. 

Extensive Connectivity Network 

OR Tambo International has an extensive route network that services 5 continents with over 42 international, regional and domestic airlines flying in and out of the Airport. Additional connections are being pursued as part of Gauteng Air Access, an initiative that aims to prioritise direct links to all major economic destinations, thereby reducing travel time and giving businesses access to a wider marketplace. 


Operational efficiency and service standards 

Operational efficiency is central to an Airport’s service offering. In terms of the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) Level of Service concept, the industry benchmark for optimum passenger terminal facilities includes check-in time, security, passport control, boarding gates and baggage handling, amongst others. The Airport Council International’s (ACI) Guide to Airport Performance Measures also considers six categories, namely: safety and security, service quality, cost-effectiveness, environmental factors, financial considerations and the core aspects of passengers, aircraft movements, air freight and non-stop connections. 

In order to measure an Airport’s operational efficiency and service, an Airport operator can procure an independent assessment of its service and operations. By far one of the largest globally, Skytrax is a leading assessor of airline and airport service quality that on an annual basis, assesses customer services and facilities in over 500 airports as part of its World Airport Awards. 

At the 2023 Skytrax World Airport Award ceremony, OR Tambo International was ranked the 3rd best Airport in Africa, after Cape Town International and King Shaka International Airport. The Airport has also been ranked as a 3 star, meaning it is achieving a fair quality performance in facilities, performance, and service standards. 

Cargo capabilities 

Another measurement of an airport is its air cargo capabilities. This is because air cargo has grown at a faster rate than passenger demand (IATA, 2013). In this space, OR Tambo International remains the largest air cargo hub in South Africa, accounting for 87.9% of all inbound air cargo traffic and 76.4% of all outbound air cargo (ACSA, 2022). This equates to 400,000 tonnes of cargo processed at OR Tambo International annually. 

To support the growing air cargo demand, plans are already underway to expand OR Tambo International’s air cargo offering. 

The Offering to Investors 

Investors generally require different types of transport services, based on the urgency of their goods, and the suitability of transport to handle those goods. 

In response to its competitive location and the service capabilities of OR Tambo International, the OR Tambo International Airport SEZ is the best location for companies that manufacture high-value, low-mass products that move via air freight. 

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