Airports in South Africa

Cape Town

Africa's third-busiest airport, and the winner of the 2009 Skytrax award for Best Airport in Africa, Cape Town International (CPT) is a sleek, light and spacious transport hub – and a suitably lovely introduction for foreign visitors to the Cape of Good Hope.

Recently upgraded for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Cape Town International is a truly world-class airport, and a prime tourism gateway. Flights to Cape Town International are operated by a huge array of airlines, bringing eager visitors from all over the world to the city's sunny shores.

Boasting an impressive array of facilities and amenities, just as you'll have no shortage of things to do in South Africa's Mother City – with hiking trails up iconic Table Mountain, long stretches of beautiful beaches, trips out to historic Robben Island, and serious partying in Long Street all in the offing – rest assured that your time spent in transit in Cape Town International will be very painless indeed.

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Durban

The spacious and attractive Durban King Shaka International Airport, known also as La Mercy Airport, was built in preparation for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. Replacing the cramped Durban International Airport, the facility is large and modern, with state-of-the-art facilities that rival higher-traffic destinations Cape Town and Johannesburg for convenience. Named for the famous Zulu king of the 19th century, the architecture of the airport contains hints at the region’s culture, and eagle-eyed passengers will find many traditional Zulu shields.

Handling a little more than half of its 7.5 million passenger capacity, the airport rarely feels crowded. This is partly due to the limited number of destinations available on direct flights to Durban King Shaka Airport. Air traffic is primarily focused on local flights to Johannesburg, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, George and East London. Most international flights to Durban International Airport connect via Johannesburg, but there are flights available to Mauritius, Maputo and Dubai.

The main annoyance of the airport is not the service or facilities, but its remote location 22 miles (35km) north of Durban. The current total lack of public transport options make getting into town an expensive prospect if you don’t have someone to pick you up.

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OR Tambo

After massive upgrades for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport (JNB) is vastly different to the disorganized airport of only a few years ago. South Africa’s main hub and Africa’s busiest airport, it processes nearly 18 million passengers each year from destinations around the world and is the point of entry for nearly every visitor to South Africa.

Many flights to OR Tambo Airport come from other parts of Africa, including Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Bloemfontein, George, Maputo, Harare and Gabarone. However, there are also regular flights from major international destinations such as London, Paris, Cairo, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Dubai, Madrid, Athens, Mumbai, Sydney, Singapore, Bangkok, Lisbon and Istanbul.

As the gateway to the wonders of South Africa, including nearby Kruger National Park and the historic townships of Alexandra and Soweto, Johannesburg’s improved airport gets high marks for service. The spacious terminals are perfectly adequate for a long stopover.

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Port Elizabeth

Just two miles (3km) from the central business district, Port Elizabeth Airport (PLZ) is sometimes called the “10-minute airport” because of its close proximity to just about everything. It's a very small, slick and functional airport that doesn't offer much by way of shopping and dining, but will get you through customs and baggage claim quickly and efficiently.

Known fondly as “the Friendly City”, Port Elizabeth is a popular spot with tourists who come for the beautiful beaches and game parks in the surrounding area. The city is also a major port town and manufacturing center, and an important transport hub in the region. What it lacks in blockbuster attractions, it makes up for in the warmth of the local people and laid-back atmosphere – rather like its airport.

View Port Elizabeth (PLZ) Airport Guide

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