uMthatha airport handed over to South African National Defence Force21 March 2012
Following Cabinet approval on May 16, 2012 the Premier of the Eastern Cape, Ms Noxolo Kiviet has handed over the uMthatha Airport to the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Ms Lindiwe Sisulu for development and management by the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).
The SANDF will develop the airport to international standards, with extended runway to use as a strategic asset for air transport logistics, border security operations along the border with Lesotho, maritime operations and other regional operations.
“For the SANDF the airport is a strategic asset, from borderline security particularly the borderline with Lesotho, to securing of our maritime borders. In our view, this is a strategic place. For the Province, this airport must grow to be a regional economic hub, supporting agriculture and boosting local economy through tourism,” Minister said.
The Minister added that the presence of a full Military airport will also assist in emergencies and disasters in the region. “We are in partnership with the people of the Eastern Cape, we are here to work with you to develop and support this Province, both from economic development and building of communities” She said.
The Minister further stated that the SANDF see the airport as a pilot school with young people in the Eastern Cape having their first home pilot school.
“The South African Air Force (SAAF) will also operate a pilot school from this airport, young people from this regional and the Eastern Cape will now have their own home pilot school, opening up career opportunities that have never existed before” She said.