O. R. Tambo International Airport

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O. R. Tambo International Airport
Johannesburg International Airport
O.R. Tambo International Airport Logo.svg
Airport typePublic
OwnerAirports Company South Africa
ServesJohannesburg, South Africa
Pretoria, South Africa
LocationKempton Park, Ekurhuleni, Gauteng, South Africa
Hub for
Time zoneSAST (UTC+02:00)
Elevation AMSL5,558 ft / 1,694 m
Coordinates26°08′00″S 028°15′00″E / 26.13333°S 28.25000°E / -26.13333; 28.25000Coordinates: 26°08′00″S 028°15′00″E / 26.13333°S 28.25000°E / -26.13333; 28.25000
JNB is located in Greater Johannesburg
Location in the Johannesburg area
JNB is located in South Africa
JNB (South Africa)
JNB is located in Africa
JNB (Africa)
Direction Length Surface
ft m
03L/21R 14,495 4,421 Asphalt
03R/21L 11,155 3,405 Asphalt
Statistics (Apr 2017 - Mar 2018)
Aircraft movements220,934
Economic impact$3.2 billion[1]
Social impact128.2 thousand[1]
Source: Passenger Statistics[2]

O. R. Tambo International Airport (IATA: JNB, ICAO: FAOR, formerly FAJS) (ORTIA) is a major international airport in Kempton Park, Ekurhuleni, Gauteng, South Africa,[3] near the city of Johannesburg and, to a lesser extent, the executive capital Pretoria. It serves as the primary airport for domestic and international travel to/from South Africa and is Africa's busiest airport with a capacity to handle up to 28 million passengers annually[4] with non-stop flights to all continents except Antarctica; the airport is the hub of South Africa's largest international and domestic carrier, South African Airways (SAA), and a number of smaller local airlines. The airport handled a total of over 21 million passengers in 2017.

It was originally known as Jan Smuts International Airport,[5] after the former South African Prime Minister of the same name. The airport was renamed Johannesburg International Airport in 1994 when the newly elected African National Congress government implemented a policy of not naming airports after politicians. The policy was reversed later, and the airport was renamed again on 27 October 2006 after Oliver Reginald Tambo; a former President of the African National Congress.[6]


The airport was founded in 1952 as Jan Smuts Airport, two years after his death, near the town of Kempton Park on the East Rand, it replaced Palmietfontein International Airport, which had handled European flights since 1945.

In 1943, a decision was by the cabinet of the Union of South Africa to construct three international airports with a Civil Airports Advisory Committee formed to investigate and report on the viability;[7]:224 that report was submitted to the cabinet in March 1944 with one main international airport on the Witwatersrand and two smaller international airports at Cape Town and Durban.[7]:224 The South African Railways and Harbours Administration was given the role of managing the project and later in 1944, a member sent to the USA to study standards and methods of construction.[7]:224–5 Four possible sites around Johannesburg were identified, with one south of Johannesburg chosen but soon discarded due to being situated on land with gold bearing reefs below.[7]:225 Sites were then narrowed down to Kempton Park and the existing airport at Palmietfontein.[7]:225

Layouts and rough costing for the two sites were established and submitted for a ministerial decision;[7]:226 the site would be at Kempton Park and be named Jan Smuts Airport.[7]:226 The area outside Kempton Park, was an expropriated undulating dairy farm of 3,706 acres with a 598 acre eucalyptus plantation.[7]:227 Sitting on a plateau, the area sloped away towards the east;[7]:227 the area was drained by the Blesbok River.[7]:227

In the late fifties jet passenger aircraft became the norm and there was a need to expand the existing ground facilities at the airport and this began in the sixties and early seventies. In addition to the new airside facilities, ground developments included improved road access, parking areas, hotel, retail areas and car hire.[8]:50

The late sixties saw a new choice of aircraft for South African Airways, the Boeing 747.[9]:339 A decision was made by the Minister of Transport of three, later five 747s for the airline.[9]:339 Delivery would begin in October 1971 with the first flight to London on 10 December 1971 with daily services from February 1972;[9]:339 these purchases however required new hangar facilities with the contract awarded in September 1969 initially worth R2,983,408.[9]:339 Construction started in December 1968 and was completed in October 1971 for R8 million while other work at the airport associated with the arrival of these new aircraft brought the costs to R40 million.[9]:341 Other new buildings such as workshops, testing facilities, stores, staff accommodation and air cargo handling building were built; the new hangar would allow for two 747s with each bay with dimensions of 73.2 m wide, 24.4 m high and a depth of 91.4 m.[9]:341

It was used as a test airport for the Concorde during the 1970s, to determine how the aircraft would perform while taking off and landing at high elevations ('hot and high' testing).[10] During the 1980s, many countries stopped trading with South Africa because of the United Nation sanctions imposed against South Africa in the struggle against apartheid, and many international airlines had to stop flying to the airport; these sanctions also resulted in South African Airways being refused rights to fly over most African countries, and in addition to this, the risk of flying over some African countries was emphasised by the shooting down of two passenger aircraft over Rhodesia (e.g. Air Rhodesia Flight 825 and 827),[11] forcing them to fly around the "bulge" of Africa; this required specially-modified aircraft like the long-range Boeing 747SP. A second runway was built at the airport in the late 1980s.[8]:50

In December 1993, a R120 million upgrade at the airport was completed;[12]:14 the main part of the projects was an 880 m, 3000 t steel airside corridor consisting of two levels high of 6 m wide with thirteen passenger bridges.[12]:14 The upper levels are connected the departure lounges through security screening points. Lower levels are for arrivals for entry into the immigration and custom areas.[12]:14 A future provision for extensions to this airside corridor was included in the design.[12]:14 A new airside bus terminal was also added for bussing in passengers to aircraft not able dock next to the terminal. Other parts of the project included upgrading the terminal facilities for the passengers.[12]:14

Following the ending of apartheid, the airport's name, and that of other international airports in South Africa, were changed and these restrictions were lifted. With the creation of the Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA) in the mid-nineties, a plan to commercialise the airport begun with new passenger and retail and airside facilities to handle a larger amount of planes completing this phase in 2004.[8]:50

The airport overtook Cairo International Airport in 1996 as the busiest airport in Africa[13] and is the fourth-busiest airport in the Africa–Middle East region after Dubai International Airport, Hamad International Airport, and Abu Dhabi International Airport. In fiscal year 2010, the airport handled 8.82 million departing passengers.[14]

In late 2005, a name change was proposed for the airport to "O. R. Tambo International", after former ANC President and anti-apartheid activist Oliver Reginald Tambo, an apparent change to the precedent of neutrally-named airports; the name change was formally announced in the Government Gazette of South Africa on 30 June 2006, allowing a 30-day window for the public to register objections. The name change was implemented on 27 October 2006 with the unveiling of new signs at the airport. Critics noted the considerable expense involved in renaming the airport, and the decision to use a politician as the name would be obscure, confusing and in some instances, offensive. Corne Mulder of the Freedom Front Plus has stamped the renaming "nothing less than political opportunism and attempts by the ANC government to dodge the true socio-economic issues of the country".[15] Unnecessary confusion can be caused, for O. R. Tambo is also a district municipality in the Eastern Cape, seated in Mthatha. The town of Mthatha has an international airport known as Mthatha Airport, formerly named the K. D. Matanzima Airport after former Transkei President Kaiser Matanzima.

On 26 November 2006, the airport became the first in Africa to host the Airbus A380;[16] the aircraft landed in Johannesburg on its way to Sydney via the South Pole on a test flight.

There was no provision for rapid train access until 2010, when the Gautrain project would allow train passengers to reach the airport from the Johannesburg CBD, Sandton and Pretoria.[8]:50

Airport information[edit]

An O.R Tambo bust at the aircraft viewing deck above the CTB.

O. R. Tambo International Airport is a hot and high airport. Situated almost 1,700 metres (5,500 feet) above mean sea level, the air is thin;[17] this means some aircraft must reduce weight by loading less fuel than they would otherwise. The thinner air is also the reason for the longer than usual runways. On some routes such as to North America, it means flights from Johannesburg need to refuel en route while the return flight originating from a lower altitude airport can upload enough fuel to reach Johannesburg non-stop.

O. R. Tambo International Airport is one of only three airports in the Africa-Middle East region-as well as the only one properly located in Africa-that has non-stop flights to all six inhabited continents, the other two being Dubai International Airport and Doha International Airport.

On 10 January 2013 the airport's ICAO code was changed from FAJS to FAOR.[18]

South African Airways Museum[edit]

O. R. Tambo International Airport used to serve as grounds for the South African Airways Museum; this room full of South African Airways memorabilia was started by two fans of the airline as a temporary location until they could set it up in one of Jan Smuts International's buildings in 1987. The museum has since relocated to Rand Airport (FAGM).

Aircraft Viewing Decks[edit]

The airport has two viewing decks. One is located above the Central Terminal Building, and the other in an administrative section of the airport above the international check-in counters. There are regular displays of Oliver Reginald Tambo, the airport's namesake in the viewing decks.


Inside the O. R. Tambo International Airport.
OR Tambo terminal buildings
Check in for the International Terminals.


O. R. Tambo International Airport has two runways (one pair of parallel runways) adjacent to the airport's terminal buildings. There used to be a third runway, 09/27, but was closed due to the danger it posed, it is now taxiway Juliet.

Number Length Width ILS Notes
03L/21R 4421m[19] 60m[19] PALS CAT II[19] Fully laden aircraft require a far greater length of runway to achieve take-off velocity at this altitude. It is the 33rd longest runway in the world.
03R/21L 3405m[20] 60m[20] PALS CAT II[20]

Furthermore all runways are equipped with Approach Lighting Systems. Sequenced flashers are not used at any South African runways and therefore not installed. Touchdown zone (TDZ) lighting is available, but never turned on. Runway Threshold, Edge and Centerline lights are the only lighting available. During busy periods, outbound flights use the western runway (03L/21R) for take-off, while inbound flights use the eastern runway (03R/21L) for landing. Wind factors may cause numerous variations, but on most days flights will take off to the north and land from the south.

Taxiways and Aprons[edit]

O. R. Tambo International Airport has a network of asphalt taxiways connecting runways, aprons and maintenance facilities.[21] All of these taxiways are 30.5 metres wide, except for taxiway Echo which is 60 metres wide. The airport also has nine aprons. Cargo aircraft park at aprons Golf and Whiskey. Many airlines have their aircraft wait long hours between arriving and departing flights; such aircraft and other cargo aircraft are parked at aprons delta and foxtrot to free up jetbridges. Aprons Alpha, Charlie and Echo have jetbridges that connect them to their respective gates; the Bravo apron is not connected to the terminal building, and thus aircraft that land there must use an airport bus service.


ACSA reported that major new developments took place at the airport, in preparation for the 2010 FIFA World Cup; the development includes expansion of the international terminal, with the new international pier (opened in 2009), which includes gates for the Airbus A380 and increased capacity at the same time. A new Central Terminal building, designed by Osmond Lange Architects and Planners, was completed on April 1, 2009.[citation needed] An additional multi-storey parkade was built in January 2010, at a cost of R470 million opposite the Central Terminal Building,[citation needed] plus Terminal A was also upgraded and the associated roadways realigned to accommodate more International Departures space.

The Central Terminal Building (CTB) (cost: R2 billion) boosted passenger capacity at the landside of the terminal in 3 levels, and allows direct access from international and domestic terminals. Additional luggage carousels were added on March 12, 2010 to accommodate the Airbus A380.[citation needed] Arrivals are accommodated on Level 1, with departures expanded on Level 3; Level 2 accommodates further retail and commercial activities; the Gautrain Rapid Rail Link station is above the terminal.

The new International Pier (cost: R535 million) has increased international arrivals and departures capacity in a two-storey structure with nine additional airside contact stands, four of which are Airbus A380 compatible.[citation needed] Air bridges are already in place and the existing duty-free mall will be extended into this area. Additional lounges and passenger-holding areas will be constructed on the upper level.

A second terminal between the two runways has been cancelled, it would have contained its own domestic and international check-in facilities, contact stands, shops and lounges and was projected to cost R8 billion.[citation needed]


There are six terminals at the airport, but these can be broken down into three major areas: the international terminals; the domestic terminals; and the transit terminals; the transit terminal housed disused parts of the old domestic terminals. It has been mostly demolished to build a new Central Terminal that will provide an indoor link between domestic and international terminals, as well as a central passenger check-in area and more gates, it was constructed for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Terminals A1 and A2 handle international passengers while the other two terminals handle domestic passengers. Due to the airport's design, departure and arrivals terminals are considered separate terminals; the Central Terminal that is under construction will be named Terminal A3 and it will be used for both international and domestic passengers. The airline Mango has its head office on the mezzanine level of the Domestic Departure Terminal.[22]

The two terminals, Terminal A and Terminal B, have been restructured. Several airlines now use Terminal B for all check-ins (top floor, adjacent to the arrivals atrium), for both national and international flights; the airlines that moved check-in to Terminal B include SAA, SA Airlink, SA Express, Air Mauritius, and Qantas.[23]

Terminals A and B boast over 140 retail stores; the Duty Free stores are based airside in Terminal A and many of them stock products exclusively available at the airport.

The ample parking available at O. R. Tambo International Airport was revamped as part of the upgrades made prior to the 2010 World Cup with the introduction of state-of-the-art technology that allows visitors to identify available parking spaces easily.

Airlines and destinations[edit]


Air Austral Saint-Denis de la Réunion [24]
Air Botswana Francistown, Gaborone, Kasane, Maun [25]
Air China Beijing–Capital, Shenzhen [26][27]
Air France Paris–Charles de Gaulle [28][29]
Airlink Antananarivo, Beira, Bloemfontein, Bulawayo, Gaborone, Harare, Hoedspruit, Kasane, Kimberley, Lusaka, Maseru, Manzini–King Mswati, Maun, Mthatha, Nampula, Ndola, Nelspruit, Nosy Be, Pemba, Phalaborwa, Pietermaritzburg, Polokwane, Port Elizabeth, Richards Bay, Saint HelenaA, Sishen, Skukuza, Tete, Umtata, Upington, Vilanculos, Walvis Bay
Charter: Ascension IslandB
Air Madagascar Antananarivo [31]
Air Mauritius Mauritius [32]
Air Namibia Windhoek-Hosea Kutako [33]
Air Seychelles Mahé [34]
Air Tanzania Dar es Salaam [35]
Air Zimbabwe Bulawayo, Harare [36]
Alitalia Rome–Fiumicino [37][29]
ASKY Airlines Douala, LagosC D, Libreville, LoméE F [38]
British Airways Cape Town, Durban, Harare, Livingstone, London–Heathrow, Mauritius, Port Elizabeth, Victoria Falls, Windhoek–Hosea Kutako [39]
Cathay Pacific Hong Kong [40]
Congo Airways Kinshasa–N'djiliG, Lubumbashi [41][42]
Delta Air Lines Atlanta [43]
EgyptAir Cairo [44]
El Al Tel Aviv [45]
Emirates Dubai–International [46]
Ethiopian Airlines Addis Ababa [47]
Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi [48]
Fastjet Harare, Victoria Falls [49][50]
FlySafair Cape Town, Durban, East London, George, Port Elizabeth [51]
Iberia Madrid (ends 31 August 2019)[52] [53]
Kenya Airways Nairobi–Jomo Kenyatta [54][55]
KLM Amsterdam [56][29]
Kulula.com Cape Town, Durban, East London, George [57]
LAM Mozambique Airlines Beira, Maputo, NampulaH, PembaI [58]
LATAM Brasil São Paulo–Guarulhos [59]
Lufthansa Frankfurt [60]
Malawian Airlines Blantyre, LilongweJ [61]
Mango Cape Town, Durban, George, Port Elizabeth, Zanzibar [62]
Proflight Zambia Ndola (begins 2 September 2019) [63]
Qatar Airways DohaK [64]
Qantas Sydney [65]
RwandAir KigaliL, Lusaka [66]
Saudia Jeddah [67][55]
Singapore Airlines SingaporeM [68]
South African Airways AbidjanN, Accra, Blantyre, Cape Town, Dakar, Dar es Salaam, Durban, East London, Entebbe, Frankfurt, Gan, Guangzhou (begins 18 September 2019),[69] Harare, Hong Kong, Kinshasa, Lagos, Lilongwe, Livingstone, London–Heathrow, Luanda, Lusaka, Maputo, Mauritius, Munich, Nairobi–Jomo Kenyatta, Ndola, New York–JFK, Perth, Port Elizabeth, São Paulo–Guarulhos, Victoria Falls, Washington–DullesN O, Windhoek–Hosea Kutako [70]
South African Express Bloemfontein, East London, Gaborone, George, Hoedspruit, Kimberley, Lubumbashi, Mahikeng, Richards Bay, Sun City, Walvis Bay [71]
Swiss International Air Lines Zürich [72]
TAAG Angola Airlines Luanda [73]
Turkish Airlines IstanbulK P [74]
Virgin Atlantic London–Heathrow [75]
  • ^A : This flight operates via Walvis Bay. However, this carrier does not have rights to transport passengers solely between Walvis Bay and Saint Helena.
  • ^B : This flight operates via Saint Helena.
  • ^C : This flight operates via Douala.
  • ^D : This flight operates via Libreville.
  • ^E : This flight operates via Douala and Lagos.
  • ^F : This flight operates via Lagos and Libreville.
  • ^G : This flight operates via Lubumbashi.
  • ^H : This flight operates via Beira.
  • ^I : This flight operates via Maputo.
  • ^J : This flight operates via Blantyre.
  • ^K : This flight continues to Durban. However, this carrier does not have rights to transport passengers solely between Johannesburg and Durban.
  • ^L : This flight operates via Lusaka.
  • ^M : This flight continues to Cape Town. However, this carrier does not have rights to transport passengers solely between Johannesburg and Cape Town.
  • ^N : This flight operates via Accra.
  • ^O : This flight operates via Dakar.
  • ^P : This flight continues to Maputo. However, this carrier does not have rights to transport passengers solely between Johannesburg and Maputo.


BidAir Cargo Cape Town, Dar es Salaam, Durban, East London, George, Harare, Kigali, Livingstone, Mauritius, Maputo, Nairobi–Jomo Kenyatta, Port Elizabeth, Victoria Falls, Windhoek-Hosea Kutako
Cargolux London–Stansted, Luxembourg, Nairobi–Jomo Kenyatta
EgyptAir Cargo Cologne/Bonn[76]
Emirates SkyCargo Dubai–Al Maktoum, Nairobi–Jomo Kenyatta
Ethiopian Airlines Cargo Addis Ababa
Imperial Air Cargo Bloemfontein, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth
Lufthansa Cargo Frankfurt, Lagos, Nairobi–Jomo Kenyatta
Martinair Amsterdam
Qatar Airways Cargo Doha, Liège, Nairobi–Jomo Kenyatta, Oslo–Gardermoen
Saudia Cargo Amsterdam, Jeddah, Nairobi–Jomo Kenyatta
Singapore Airlines Cargo Amsterdam, Chennai, Mumbai, Nairobi–Jomo Kenyatta, Singapore
South African Airways Cargo Blantyre, Cape Town, Bloemfontein, Dar es Salaam, Durban, Entebbe, Harare, Kinshasa, Lusaka, Maputo, Mauritius, Nairobi–Jomo Kenyatta, Port Elizabeth, Windhoek-Hosea Kutako[77]
Turkish Airlines Cargo Antananarivo, Istanbul–Atatürk, Khartoum, Nairobi–Jomo Kenyatta
Uganda Air Cargo Entebbe

Traffic and statistics[edit]

O. R. Tambo International Airport recorded 21.2 million passengers in 2017–2018, up from 20.7 million passengers the year before. Of those passengers, 9.2 million were international and 11 million domestic, with the remainder being classified as "regional" or "unscheduled". 220,644 aircraft traffic movements were recorded; the majority being domestic services. O. R. Tambo International Airport is the busiest airport in South Africa.

Passenger traffic[edit]

Passenger traffic per fiscal year for O. R. Tambo International Airport[78]
Year International Regional Domestic Unscheduled Total
Passenger movements % Change Passenger movements % Change Passenger movements % Change Passenger movements % Change Passenger movements % Change
2006–07 6,958,277 no data 651,642 no data 10,094,758 no data 89,423 no data 17,794,100 no data
2007–08 7,645,647 Increase9.9% 714,717 Increase9.7% 11,009,841 Increase9.1% 87,293 Decrease2.4% 19,457,498 Increase9.3%
2008–09 7,480,461 Decrease2.2% 730,387 Increase2.2% 9,582,332 Decrease13.0% 91,679 Increase5.0% 17,884,859 Decrease8.1%
2009–10 7,489,211 Increase0.1% 762,033 Increase4.3% 9,270,478 Decrease3.3% 74,481 Decrease18.8% 17,596,203 Decrease1.6%
2010–11 7,965,594 Increase6.4% 794,477 Increase4.3% 9,732,250 Increase5.0% 150,824 Increase102.5% 18,643,145 Increase5.9%
2011–12 8,088,013 Increase1.5% 846,067 Increase6.5% 9,985,246 Increase2.6% 84,216 Decrease44.2% 19,003,542 Increase1.9%
2012–13 8,276,845 Increase2.3% 826,676 Decrease2.3% 9,437,069 Decrease5.5% 80,669 Decrease4.2% 18,621,259 Decrease2.0%
2013-14 8,570,384 Increase3.6% 894,670 Increase8.2% 9,257,225 Decrease1.9% 98,709 Increase22.3% 18,820,988 Increase1.0%
2014-15 8 614 192 Increase0.5% 914 644 Increase2.2% 9 510 809 Increase2.7% 95 448 Decrease3.4 19 135 093 Increase1.7%
2015-16 8 791 210 Increase2.1% 905 729 Decrease1.0% 10 586 823 Increase11.3% 91 236 Decrease4.6% 20 374 998 Increase6.5%
2016- 17 8 974 372 Increase2.0% 931 594 Increase2.8% 10 703 205 Increase1.1% 83 609 Decrease8.3% 20 692 780 Increase1.5%
2017- 18 9 237 487 Increase2.9% 897 409 Decrease3.7% 11 018 062 Increase2.9% 78 552 Decrease6.0% 21 231 510 Increase2.6%

Aircraft movements[edit]

Annual aircraft movements for O. R. Tambo International Airport[79][80]
Year International Regional Domestic Unscheduled Total
Aircraft movements % Change Aircraft movements % Change Aircraft movements % Change Aircraft movements % Change Aircraft movements % Change
2006–07 53,003 no data 17,684 no data 114,917 no data 26,037 no data 211,641 no data
2007–08 59,031 Increase11.4% 18,799 Increase6.3% 121,621 Increase5.8% 29,591 Increase13.6% 229,042 Increase8.2%
2008–09 57,559 Decrease2.5% 17,965 Decrease4.4% 109,372 Decrease10.1% 28,297 Decrease4.4% 213,193 Decrease6.9%
2009–10 59,382 Increase3.2% 19,732 Increase9.8% 103,166 Decrease5.7% 20,252 Decrease28.4% 202,532 Decrease5.0%
2010–11 63,414 Increase6.8% 19,846 Decrease0.6% 105,627 Increase2.4% 24,031 Increase18.7% 212,918 Increase5.1%
2011–12 63,233 Decrease0.3% 20,769 Increase4.6% 107,053 Increase1.3% 21,515 Decrease10.4% 212,570 Decrease0.1%
2012–13 63,610 Increase0.3% 19,021 Decrease8.4% 95,869 Decrease10.4% 21,302 Decrease0.9% 199,802 Decrease6.0%
2013–14 66,993 Increase6.0% 19,408 Increase2.0% 96,788 Increase0.9% 23,414 Increase9.9% 206,603 Increase3.4%
2014–15 65,874 Decrease1.6% 21,164 Increase9.0% 103,612 Increase6.5% 26,977 Increase13.2% 217,627 Increase5.0%
2015–16 65,910 Increase0.1% 21,382 Increase1.0% 110,741 Increase6.8% 26,158 Decrease3.0% 224,191 Increase3.0%
2016–17 65,705 Decrease0.3% 21,069 Decrease1.4% 110,173 Decrease0.5% 23,987 Decrease8.3% 220,934 Decrease1.5%
2017–18 66,214 Increase0.7% 20,314 Decrease3.6% 108,599 Decrease1.4% 25,607 Increase6.8% 220,644 Decrease0.1%

Other buildings[edit]

Airways Park, the head office of South African Airways

South African Airways is headquartered in Airways Park on the grounds of O. R. Tambo International Airport;[3][81][82] the building was developed by Stauch Vorster Architects.[83] Airways Park was completed in March 1997 for R70 Million ($17.5 Million).[84] The fourth floor of the West Wing of the Pier Development of O. R. Tambo has the head office of SA Express.[85][86][87]

Ground transport[edit]

Gautrain at O. R. Tambo Intl Airport

Rail transit[edit]

A transit terminal has been built between the domestic and international terminals, it houses the Gautrain station linking the airport to Sandton, a major business district and a primary tourist area, and, from there, the rest of the Gautrain system.

In September 2006 Gauteng Province contracted Bombardier Transportation for a rail link connecting Johannesburg, Pretoria, and the airport, with construction to begin immediately;[88] the section linking the airport to Sandton in Johannesburg was completed on 8 June 2010 in time for the World Cup. Trains run 90 trips per day and carry an estimated 60000 passengers daily.[89]


The airport is easily accessible by car and it is located in northeast Johannesburg on the R24 Airport Freeway, which can be accessed by the R24 (South Africa) and the R21 highway; the R24 intersects with the R21 near the airport and with the O. R. Tambo Airport Highway; this highway goes through the airport terminals, separating them from the parking bays, but it branches off into two directions: "departures" and "arrivals", and then it rebranches into the intersection.


Five bus city lines, operated by Metrobus and Putco, pass through the airport twice a day; the buses are accessible in the morning and the evening, when there are many passengers departing and arriving. There are also private bus lines operating express buses to the CBD of Johannesburg, as well as other locations.

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • 20 October 1957 – A Vickers Viscount G-AOYF, operated by Vickers on a test flight, was damaged beyond economic repair when the starboard undercarriage collapsed following a heavy landing.[90]
  • 1 March 1988 – A Comair Embraer EMB 110 Bandeirante ZS-LGP, exploded in mid air whilst on final approach. All seventeen occupants were killed. A passenger was suspected of detonating an explosive device but to this day it has never been proven.[91]
  • 22 April 1999 – A Boeing 727 ZS-IJE was damaged beyond repair by large hailstones while on approach for landing. The aircraft landed safely with no loss of life.[92]
  • 3 November 2001 – A Reims-Cessna F406 crashed shortly after takeoff from runway 03R, killing all 3 occupants. The aircraft did not have a valid certificate of airworthiness at the time of the incident.[93]
  • 9 April 2004 – An Emirates Airbus A340-300 A6-ERN operating flight EK764 from Johannesburg to Dubai sustained serious damage during takeoff when it failed to become airborne before the end of the runway, striking 25 approach lights, causing four tyres to burst which in turn threw debris into various parts of the aircraft, ultimately damaging the flap drive mechanism. This rendered the flaps immoveable in the takeoff position; the aircraft returned for an emergency landing during which the normal braking system failed as a result of the damage. The aircraft was brought to a stop only 250 metres from the end of the 3,400-metre runway using reverse thrust and the alternate braking system.[94][95] In their report, South African investigators found that the captain had used an erroneous take-off technique, and criticised Emirates training and rostering practices.[96]
  • 25 March 2006 – A gunman held up guards at the airport gates. Others armed with AK-47 assault rifles held up guards and police at a South African Airways aircraft and helped themselves to bags of pound sterling banknotes flown in from Britain. Several airport security staff were implicated in the heist.[97]
  • 22 December 2013 – A British Airways Boeing 747-400 G-BNLL operating flight BA33 collided with a building at the airport. Four ground-handling staff in the building sustained minor injuries; the airplane was written off and scrapped by April 2015.[98][99][100]
  • 26 October 2015 – A British Airways operated by Comair Boeing 737-400 ZS-OAA operating flight BA6234 from Port Elizabeth suffered a gear collapse while landing at the airport. There were no injuries.[101][102]
  • 7 March 2017 – A heist, remarkably similar to the heist in 2006, was carried out by a gang of up to 13 robbers who stole a huge sum of used foreign currency notes collected from South Africa's banks and foreign exchange services. The money was to be transported to London by South African Airways.[103][104]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "O. R. Tambo International airport – Economic and social impacts". Ecquants. Retrieved 7 September 2013.
  2. ^ "O.R. Tambo Airport Passenger Statistics". Airports Company South Africa. Archived from the original on 28 August 2012. Retrieved 15 January 2013.
  3. ^ a b "Background[permanent dead link]". Ekurhuleni. 3 (3/8). Retrieved 30 September 2009.
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External links[edit]