History of the Airport

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Blue sky dreams  

“To build the busiest airport in the country” was an idea sparked by two aviation enthusiasts (Fanie Haacke and Abe Sher) in the 70’s.  In 1974 the dream became a reality and work began to build Johannesburg’s alternative international airport, with a mere investment of R2,7 million.

The residents of the area were not too excited about the prospect of getting a noisy airport on the boarders of their peaceful farming land.  They formed a committee and protested against the development, which regularly made front page news. However, the Minister of Planning, Mr JJ Loots confirmed the need for a new airport on 6 June 1972, and said the new facility would rival the only other large airport at the time, Jan smuts.  Just two years later, the airport opened it's doors to privately operated aircraft. 

Spectacular Air Shows

In 1975 Lanseria International Airport was chosen to host Air Africa International '75 - a major event on the international aerospace calendar and a milestone in South African aviation history. For the first time, South African buyers were afforded the opportunity of being able to select the latest international aircraft and electronic equipment. Air demonstrations that were originally produced for air shows in Farnborough and Paris, now delighted thousands of spectators at Lanseria.

The success of the first air show spurred on another in 1977.  More than R100 million rand worth of aircraft and equipment was on display at the Aviation Africa Show in October that year.   A highlight of the air show was an exhibition by the South African Air Force, during which all types of aircraft in service would be put through their paces.   The shows included the South African manufactured Mirage F-1.  For the first time aircraft such as the Enstrom Shark and the revolutionary CSIR Autogyro helicopter was on display.

More international air shows followed in 1979 and 1981 and the exhibitors and crowds grew every year.

The home of magnificent aircraft

Lanseria was also home to 4 Impala Squadron and 41 Reconnaissance Squadron of the South African Air Force from May 1979 until the base was closed in 1991.

The South African Air Force Museum based its workshop at Lanseria International Airport in 1978 and opened it to public acclaim in March 1980 with exhibits of refurbished Tiger Moths, an Argus Fairchild and four Mirage F-1's. In October that year the Museum staged a Vintage Day at Lanseria International Airport to commemorate Forty One Squadron, one of South Africa's foremost reconnaissance squadrons.

New Legislation

In 1977, The Department of Transport published several changes in regulations governing private and charter aircraft.  “Lanseria International Airport is to be the new terminal for all flights to and from South Africa by visiting aircraft registered in foreign countries and engaged in carrying passengers or cargo to South Africa for remuneration”,  the Gazette stated.  The move took much needed pressure off the busy Jan Smuts Airport, so that it could “focus on major passenger flights.”   Lanseria International Airport continued to grow and over the years became the home base for several commercial airlines that coloured the South African skies. Today it’s home to  our top airlines kulula.com, Mango and Fly Safair.

Airport for Sale

In 1990, Lanseria's co-owners, the Roodepoort and Krugersdorp Municipalities and the Transvaal Administrator, announced that the airport was to be sold. Tenders for the ownership and management of the airport were issued and the tender was awarded to a consortium of private investors in 1991.

The Star newspaper reports (on 4 April, 1991) that the 300 ha airport will be turned into the “gateway to Africa” with a R50 million revamp.  Later plans were put on hold, pending the outcome of a feasibility study.

During 1991 Lanseria International Airport handled more than 108 000 aircraft movements and catered for more than 250 000 passengers. Many private and charter companies operated from Lanseria International Airport, using the airports 24 hour customs service and the many other facilities catering for pilots and passengers from all over the world.

VIP Airport

When former President, Nelson Mandela, was released from prison in May 1990, he was flown to Johannesburg and the first time he set foot on Gauteng soil after such a long time, was onto the tarmac at Lanseria International Airport.  The airport continues to be the first choice to welcome international guests, presidents and superstars into our country.

Growth and Expansion

By 1999, the continued growth was evident in the number of airline operators, passengers and freight volume utilising Lanseria Airport. The 27-year old terminal building was no longer able to meet this demand and an expansion programme started.  In 2002 a larger main terminal building was completed along with an upgrade of all runways and taxiways.

In 2003 about 160 000 passengers passed through it’s terminal.

In 2004 both runways and taxiways were lengthened and widened to accommodate bigger aircraft like the Boeing 757-300 and Airbus 319 aircraft. Ms Wrenelle Stander, Director-General of Transport opened the airports extensions.

International Airport Status

South African airports had their international status reviewed in February 2001, as part of the Government's revised infrastructure requirements for international aviation. Nine ACSA operated airports (Airports Company of SA) and the privately owned Lanseria were the only airfields to retain their international status.

More Expansion

In May 2010 it once again became necessary to expand the terminal building. The Domestic Departure Lounge area was revamped to accommodate the overwhelming demand for scheduled flights to and from Durban and Cape Town. New shops and restaurants were also added, along with more parking facilities, all of which have contributed to the continued success of the airport.