sustainability journey:
Cape Town International Airport

An aerotropolis is a new urban form, placing airports in the centre with cities growing around them, connecting workers, suppliers, executives, and goods to the global marketplace.”

~ John Kasarda, leading international aerotropolis concept developer.

The aerotropolis model refers to a sub region where the urban fabric of the surrounding area influences economic and social growth. This new urban typology provides high-value, as well as basic employment and economic opportunities in its hinterland. The aerotropolis model entails a dense, central, multi-modal, multi-functional core (referred to as an “airport city”) with interdependent activities (for example, commercial, manufacturing and leisure) consciously linked to the airport city (for example, via roads, public transport and freight systems). The airport, interdependent activities and places within this “city” are maximised to provide mutual benefit to the airport and its surroundings. In a nutshell, it is about creating spaces where people can live, work and play.


Cape Town International Airport (CTIA) together with provincial and local partners have identified investment opportunities into primary sectors that create employment opportunities by developing spaces where communities can live, work, learn and play.

CTIA is Africa’s most award-winning airport, ranked number 22 globally. The airport handles close to 11 million passenger per annum with 26 airlines connecting the City of Cape Town (City) to a multitude of destinations. It has an on-time departure performance of 85%+ and achieved a level 2 ACI carbon accreditation. With over 100 brands operating at the airport it offers airport users and passengers world-class infrastructure. It sits in stark contrast to its neighbouring communities, which is why the Group is actively working toward empowering them through various initiatives.

In 2012 we identified that CTIA would need to expand in order to meet future demands, and undertook a series of land acquisitions adjacent to the airport for development. The Swartklip site belonging to Denel was identified as a highly valuable strategic parcel of land for us because it was perfectly orientated to the flight path of aircraft utilising our planned new runway. This allows us to both expand the airport and reduce noise impact – goals previously thought impossible to attain at the same time.

Our master plan for the development of this site entails true sustainability: business growth, socio-economic development of surrounding communities, job creation and environmental sensitivity.

These plans form a microcosm of everything Airports Company South Africa stands for in our transformation journey.

In the implementation of the airport master plan we are enhancing and developing impoverished areas surrounding our operations, and we are developing entrepreneurs and skills so that they can become our suppliers and even our customers when they and their goods require air transport.

There are two catalytic projects , namely, the Symphony Way development and Swartklip development, in progress in line with the aerotropolis concept.

This is a circle of sustainability which will enhance our long-term prospects as a business but also contribute to attaining the sustainable development goals as a state-owned company. CTIA’s example proves the concept that we can have a far-reaching and sustainable impact on the country at large through extensive stakeholder engagement, rigorous planning and an overarching view of stakeholder integration.