Difference between revisions of "Air travel in South Africa"

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Air travel in South Africa

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* <listing name="ATMs" directions="In all terminals"></listing>
* <listing name="ATMs" directions="In all terminals"></listing>
* <listing name="Baggage storage" directions="In the Domestic Arrivals terminal" price="R15 per bag per day" phone="+27 (0)21 936-2884"></listing>
* <listing name="Baggage storage" directions="In the Domestic Arrivals terminal" " phone="+27 (0)21 936-2884"></listing>
* <listing name="Clinic" phone="+27 (0)21 936-2277" directions="Southern Office Block"></listing>
* <listing name="Clinic" phone="+27 (0)21 936-2277" directions="Southern Office Block"></listing>
* <listing name="Foreign exchange" directions="Located in International Arrivals and Departure Terminals">Master Currency and ABSA</listing>
* <listing name="Foreign exchange" directions="Located in International Arrivals and Departure Terminals">Master Currency and ABSA</listing>

Revision as of 17:36, 9 December 2012

    This article is a travel topic

SAA at Cape Town International

South Africa is the most developed country in Africa, with one of the strongest economies of the continent. Therefore a high number of flights in Africa is to or from a destination in South Africa. See below for more information on Cape Town International.



South Africa is a major hub for air travel in the Southern African region.

The two most used airports for international flights are Cape Town International and OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg.

There are regular flights arrive in South Africa from major centers throughout Africa including: Blantyre, Cairo, Gaborone, Dar es Salaam, Harare, Lilongwe, Livingstone, Luanda, Lusaka, Kinshasa, Maputo, Manzini, Maun, Mauritius, Nairobi, Victoria Falls and Windhoek.

Direct flights also arrive from major European centers, including: Amsterdam, Athens, Madrid, London, Paris, Frankfurt, Munich, Zurich and Lisbon.

There are also direct flights from Abu Dhabi, Bangkok, Dubai, Doha, New York, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Buenos Aires, Mumbai, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Sao Paulo, Singapore, Sydney and Perth.


There are multiple daily flights to all the major airports within the country. Contact any of the airlines for details. The low cost airlines (1 Time [27], Kulula [28], Mango [29]) are usually the cheapest and prices can be compared online. It is also worth comparing with the SAA [30] rates as they usually have online specials which are very reasonable.

See also Discount airlines in Africa.


South African Airways

South African Airways

Flag carrier. Has a big network to most South African cities and operates a wide range of International flights to/from North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Australia.


  • Code: SAA
  • Phone: +27 (0)11 978-5313
  • Homepage: [31]



Affiliate of British Airways [32] in South Africa. Operates to most major cities.


  • Code:
  • Phone: +27 (0)11 921-0111
  • Homepage: [33]


One of the smaller airlines of the country. Mainly operates to destinations in Central Africa.


  • Code:
  • Phone: +27 (0)11 616-0636
  • Homepage: [34]

SA Airlink

One of the regional arms of SAA and operate mostly to smaller airports from Johannesburg and Cape Town or on low-density routes.


  • Code:
  • Phone: +27 (0)11 978-5313
  • Homepage: [35]

SA Express

SA Express

One of the regional arms of SAA and operate mostly to smaller airports from Johannesburg and Cape Town or on low-density routes.


  • Code:
  • Phone: +27 (0)11 978-2355
  • Homepage: [36]

Other Airlines

Smaller airlines like Civair [42] or NAC [43] normally operate charter flights, but sometimes have a few local routes.

A real adventure is flying with an old classic airliner. There are some tour operators offering such flights, mainly in the Gauteng region. One example is Rovos Air [44], a divison of Rovos Rail.

See also Discount airlines in Africa.


OR Tambo International in Johannesburg and Cape Town International are the two major international gateways for tourists and foreign visitors. All the larger airports in South Africa used to be state owned, but has been privatised and are now managed by the Airports Company of South Africa [45].

OR Tambo International

OR Tambo

JNB/FAJS, +27 (0)11 921-6262, [1]. Johannesburg, International Port of Entry (-26.140,28.250)

The international terminal is currently undergoing major construction work and may look and feel disorganized. Everything a traveler need is however still there; it may be just a bit harder to find. If you cannot find what you are looking for, simply ask someone and they will point you in the right direction. Due to space limitations (made even worse by the construction work) you will find fewer restaurants there and they will almost always be fully occupied. It is well worth taking a walk over to Domestic if you don't find anything you like at International. The domestic terminals was enlarged a couple of years ago, is well organized and have all the shops and restaurants that you might need.

Located in Kempton Park, about 20km east of downtown Johannesburg, OR Tambo serves at the major sub-Saharan hub. More than 40 airlines fly regular flight to and from here. Everything you would expect from a large international airport is here: plenty of restaurants, shops and ATMs.

This airport has been renamed twice in the last couple of years; you may find that people and publications still refer to it by its previous names of Johannesburg International Airport or Jan Smuts. The airport is constantly expanding, and you will probably find construction work in progress: the current big project is an additional international terminal.

The airport is located at the intersection of the R21 and R24 freeways. From Johannesburg, follow the R24 east and take exit 46, from Tshwane, follow the R21 south and take exit 46.


The airport is organized into two main terminals, linked by a common atrium: Terminal A and Terminal B. Terminal A (the northern one) is for international flights and Terminal B (the southern one) is for domestic flights. The vast majority of international check-in counters are in Terminal A, but South African Airways international passengers must check in at SAA's counters in Terminal B even though their flights will depart from Terminal A.

OR Tambo's directional signage is notoriously vague and confusing, so ask for directions whenever you feel lost. For example, when you first approach the check-in counters, you will see many signs designating the counters by numbers, but no signs indicating which airlines correspond to which numbers. Some of the signs in Terminal A imply that the fastest way to the Car Rentals area is to walk through the parkade, which is incorrect.


When planning connections to domestic destinations within South Africa, note that OR Tambo does not have a direct link between the secure arrival area of Terminal A and the secure departure area of Terminal B. Like the United States, you will have to pass through customs and immigration if OR Tambo is your first stop in SA. Also, note that Terminal B does not have jetways or aircraft parking spots within walking distance for the domestic E Gates. In other words, the E Gates are actually a tarmac-level bus terminal for buses that take you to aircraft sitting at very remote parking spots.

Thus, to be assured of a smooth connection from international to domestic SA flights, you need to incorporate a minimum of at least two hours to pass through immigration control upon arrival at Terminal A, retrieve your baggage and go through customs, check your baggage again at the Connecting Flights counter on your left after exiting Customs, walk over to Terminal B departures, pass through Terminal B security control, and then walk to your gate. Then you may then have to take a bus ride if your aircraft was assigned to an E gate.

Finally, the Connecting Flights counter is small and understaffed and lines tend to accumulate quickly. It's not a mere bag drop. They will have to look at your papers just as when you checked in. Since you will have to pass through Terminal B security anyway, it may be faster to take your baggage over to the domestic check-in counters if the lines are long and your connection period is very tight.


The terminals themselves are heavily secured with 24-hour CCTV coverage and patrols by both private security and the South African Police Service. As with most international airports, the only major issues to worry about within the terminals are petty crimes like pickpocketing.

However, OR Tambo has a very serious problem with pilfering of personal belongings from baggage. Use a good baggage lock, consider using a baggage wrapping service in the terminal before you check bags, and do not check baggage unnecessarily early. Anything of value, like jewelry or electronics, should go in your carry-on bag whenever possible.

Furthermore, note that OR Tambo has a history of gangs identifying suitable targets in the terminals, following them towards their destinations on the freeways, and then ambushing them either on the freeways or at their destinations. Watch out for suspicious people following you when you leave the terminals by any form of ground transport (even escorted tour bus) and be prepared to divert to a police station, petrol station, or other appropriate public facility to seek assistance.


  • Airport Clinic and Travel Vaccination Centre, (Ground Floor, New Domestic Arrivals Terminal), +27 (0)11 921-6609. GP, dentist, vaccinations and malaria prophylaxis
  • ATMs, (Located at international arrivals and the shopping level in the Domestic Terminal). All of South Africa's major banks are represented, including Standard, Nedbank, and ABSA.
  • Baggage storage, (Below International arrivals on the upper level of the underground parkade, near the main lift lobby.). Open 24 hours. R50 per item for the first day, R40 thereafter.
  • Baggage wrapping in plastic, (Below International arrivals on the upper level of the underground parkade, near the main lift lobby.). Open 24 hours. R35 per item.
  • Foreign exchange, (Located in International Arrivals Terminal). ABSA, American Express, Rennies and Master Currency has outlets here.
  • Post office, (Located in Terminal B, ground level, just east of the main atrium). For last-minute shipping and mailing needs. There is a small post box accessible 24 hours in front of the post office, but it is large enough only to accommodate letters and postcards; packages must be mailed at the counter when the post office is open.
  • VAT Refunds, (Mezzanine level, International Departures, just after you have passed passport control), +27 (0)11 394-1117 (), [2].

Car hire

Car hire companies are all located on level 0 in the multistory parking area opposite the domestic terminal.

  • Avis Car Rental, +27 (0)11 923-3660.
  • Budget Rent A Car, +27 (0)11 390-1924.
  • Europcar, +27 (0)11 394-8831.
  • Hertz Car Hire, +27 (0)11 390-2066.
  • Imperial Car Hire, +27 (0)11 390-1481.
  • Khaya Car Rental, +27 (0)11 390-2347.
  • National Car Rental, +27 (0)11 394-3580.
  • Sizwe Car Rental, +27 (0)11 390-2340.
  • Tempest Car Rental, +27 (0)11 394-8626.
  • First Car Rental, +27 (0) 11 390 2342.

Airport Transfers/Shuttles

Many tour operators offer transport/shuttles to and from the airport. Having someone who know the area drive you around gives you more peace of mind.

Scheduled services
  • Magic Bus, (Located in the multistory parkade opposite the domestic terminal, but you can also email or phone them and request that you be met at the gate when your flight arrives), +27 (0)11 394-6902 (, fax: +27 (0)11 466-2565), [3]. Every two hours from 8AM to 6PM. Offers a scheduled service to most major hotels in Johannesburg/Sandton To Sandton: adults R120, children R90.
Unscheduled services, book in advance
  • Airport Shuttle, +27 (0)861 748-8853 (, fax: +27 (0)86 501-0715), [4]. To Sandton:R275 for max 3 passengers, R390 for max 7 passengers. To Sun City: R1200 max 5 passengers and a range of options in between.
  • Buzz Around Tours & Transfers, + 27(0) 11 869-7155 (Office Hours) +27 (0)83 651-6700 (24 Hours) (+27 (0)83 264-4552, , fax: +27 (0)86 653-7419), [5]. 24 Hours. Door to door transfers, conference transport solutions and private tours. Caters for all group sizes. To Sandton: R350 for up to 3 passengers, R50 for any additional passengers.
  • Your Choice Tours and Shuttles, +27 (0)845804802, [6]. 24Hours.
  • Cab4U, +27 (0)725438849 (), [7]. 24Hours. Mini-buses and cars available for any number of passengers and luggage.


  • Emperors Palace, 64 Jones Road, Kempton Park (When exiting the airport, keep left and follow Jones Road. At the T-junction, take a right and keep following Jones road. The Casino resort and Hotel will be on your right.), +27 (0)11 928-1000 (, fax: +27 (0)11 928-1201), [8].
  • Garden Court OR Tambo International Airport, 2 Hulley Road, Isando, +27 (0)11 392-1062 (), [9]. 3km from the airport, transport to/from airport and shopping centres.


  • Always On Wi-Fi, +27 (0)11 575-2505, [10]. Simply connect to the access point and you will be given the opportunity to pay for access by credit card. From R15 for 10 minutes or R60 for 100MB.

Cape Town International

CPT/FACT, +27 (0)21 937-1200, [11]. Cape Town, International Port of Entry (-33.960,18.600)

The second biggest airport in South Africa and is located around 20km east from the city centre of Cape Town. It can easily reached by all National Roads and situated directly at the N2 near Bellville.

A growing number of International airlines fly into CPT. These are:

South African Airways and South African Express operate some international routes from CPT, but for the majority of destinations you will have to fly via Johannesburg. Some flights offered are to Frankfurt, London, Gaborone, and few cities in Namibia.


  • ATMs, (In all terminals).
  • Baggage storage, (In the Domestic Arrivals terminal), +27 (0)21 936-2884.
  • Clinic, (Southern Office Block), +27 (0)21 936-2277.
  • Foreign exchange, (Located in International Arrivals and Departure Terminals). Master Currency and ABSA
  • VAT Refunds, (International Departures, between passport control and the gates), +27 (0)21 934-8675 (), [12].

Car hire

  • Avis, +27 (0)21 934-0330.
  • Budget, +27 (0)21 934-3180.
  • Europcar, +27 (0)21 934-4750.
  • Hertz, +27 (0)21 934-3913.
  • Imperial, +27 (0)21 934-8600.
  • National Alamo, +27 (0)21 934-7499.
  • Tempest, +27 (0)21 934-8650.
  • Dollar Thrifty, +27 (0)21 934-0266.
  • First Car Rental, +27 (0) 21 934 7499.


  • City Lodge, (Right next to the airport), +27 (0)21 934-7303, [13].


  • Always On Wi-Fi, +27 (0)11 575-2505, [14]. Simply connect to the access point and you will be given the opportunity to pay for access by credit card. From R15 for 10 minutes or R60 for 100MB.

Kruger Mpumalanga International

MQP/FAKN, +27 (0)13 753-7500, [15]. Kruger National Park, International Port of Entry (-25.390,31.100) This airport is located just a 30 minute drive outside the Kruger National Park.

Distances to Kruger National Park entrance gates 76 km to Phabeni Gate 63 km to Malelane Gate 82 km to Kruger Gate 40 km to Numbi Gate



King Shaka International Airport

DUR/FADN (durban), +27 (0)31 451-6758, [16]. Durban, International Port of Entry (-29.970,)

King Shaka International Airport, 35km north of Durban, is served by all major South African airlines. Flights to most citites are operated. A number of smaller cities are however not connected from here. Also provides flights to Mauritius

International flights take place to Mauritius (Air Mauritius), Dubai (Emirates) and Swaziland (with Swazi Express Airways [46] and South African Express).

King Shaka International opened in May 2010. The old Durban International was deemed to small to handle the increase in commercial and tourist trade through Durban.

Gateway International Airport

PTG/FAPB, +27 (0)15 288-0122. Polokwane, International Port of Entry (-23.850,29.460)

Bloemfontein Airport

BFN/FABL, +27 (0)51 407-2240, [17]. Bloemfontein, International Port of Entry (-29.090,26.300)

East London Airport

ELS/FAEL, +27 (0)43 706-0306, [18]. East London (-29.090,26.300)

George Airport

GRJ/FAGG, +27 (0)44 876-9310, [19]. George (-34.010,22.380)

Kimberley Airport

KIM/FAKM, +27 (0)53 851-1032, [20]. Kimberley (-28.800,24.770)

Lanseria International Airport

HLA/FALA, +27 (0)11 659-2750 (), [21]. Johannesburg, International Port of Entry (-25.940,27.930)

Mainly for smaller charter, cargo and classic airlines flights, it is in fact busier than Johannesburg International and sees more air traffic. Kulula.com [47] is currently flying a commercial flight to Cape Town from the airport.

Port Elizabeth Airport

PLZ/FAPE, +27 (0)41 507-7319, [22]. Port Elizabeth (-33.980,25.620)

Upington Airport

UTN/FAUP, +27 (0)54 337-7900, [23]. Upington (-28.400,21.260)

Rand Airport

QRA/FAGM, [24]. Johannesburg Primarily a business and general aviation airport.

Grand Central Airport

GCJ/FAGC, [25]. Johannesburg Located just off the N1 between Johannesburg and Pretoria this airport is primarily a business and general aviation airport.

Pilanesberg Airport

NTY/FAPN, +27 (0)14 552-1261, [26]. Pilanesberg, International Port of Entry Located just outside Sun City provides daily flights to and from Johannesburg

Oribi Airport

Phone number: +27 033 392 3100 Pietermaritzburg Oribi Airport offers daily flights to Johannesburg. Service can be slightly erratic or heavily booked, so keep that in mind when booking important flights.

This is a usable article. It touches on all the major areas of the topic. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!