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South African Airports and SITA Prepare for FIFA World Cup 2010

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South Africa is preparing its airports to receive an estimated half a million visitors for the FIFA 2010 World Cup with improved check-in and self-service facilities through a $35m programme to be implemented by aviation IT and communications specialist SITA.

The five year contract will see SITA provide the equipment and infrastructure for both agent check-in and passenger self-service kiosk check-in for the Airports Company South Africa (ACSA), which operates ten of the country’s airports and handles 98% of South Africa’s commercial air traffic. The programme will immediately benefit the three international airports in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town, and the local airport in Port Elizabeth.

SITA has also agreed with Aviation Coordination Services (ACS), which represents the 75 airlines using South African airports, to provide continued maintenance and operation of the CUTE (Common Use Terminal Equipment) and CUSS (Common Use Self Service) check-in environment.

SITA currently supplies many of the airport systems in South Africa but ACSA and ACS took the opportunity to review and upgrade services before 2010 to ensure that the surge of passengers travelling to the World Cup games could be handled with ease.

Bongani Maseko, Operations Director, ACSA, said, “This is the first time the continent of Africa is hosting this world-class event and in South Africa, as the host country, our airports will be the first and last experience our international visitors will have during the World Cup so it is vital that we are well prepared.

“As part of this agreement with SITA, we have already installed new check-in equipment and trained all airline staff at the Central Terminal Building in Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International Airport. Work in the other terminals there will be completed in the coming months and the new terminal at Cape Town International Airport will be opening in November 2009.”

Khodr Akil, SITA Regional Vice President, Africa, said: “The airports in South Africa will have to handle up to 78,000 passengers and 260 international flights per day and will also require the capability to respond flexibly to airline schedule demands at peak times.

“Our common use check-in technology, SITA AirportConnect Open, will ensure that all work stations across the country’s airports will be available for use by the approximately 75 different airlines handling these passengers thus maximising the use of these resources to ensure smooth passenger management and minimize delays. This shared infrastructure will provide the flexibility necessary to respond quickly to individual airline needs.”

Though this is the first time that an African nation has hosted the tournament, SITA has worked with many other airports around the world as they prepared for major events that bring challenging surges of passengers, most recently and successfully at Beijing International Airport for the 2008 Olympics.

“The key to success in handling large passenger flows is to have the most suitable technology in place before the main event, making sure that all systems are tested and that staff are trained. ACSA and ACS are well advanced in this and, with SITA’s support, will be well and truly ready by June 2010,” Akil added.

In total, 64 games will be played between 11 June and 11 July 2010 in ten venues across the country with visitors traveling through many of the major airports in South Africa.

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