Port Elizabeth

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Port Elizabeth International Airport is affectionately referred to as the "ten minute airport" as it is situated within five minutes drive from the CBD, less than that to the beach front and no more than ten minutes from other areas of importance in the city.

The airport currently handles more than 1 million passengers per year, over 38 770 air traffic movements and services all major domestic routes. Business travellers account for 60 percent of all passengers, while 80 percent of people passing through the airport reside in South Africa. It is expected that this ratio will change as tourism impacts on the region. The area is served by a structured tourism organisation called the Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism.

The airport handles some 822 798 kg of cargo per month. Between the major centres of Johannesburg, Cape Town and East London. Cargo includes flowers, frozen lobster, meat, ostrich skins, other perishables, motor car componements, mail and courier parcel. The airport infrastructure boasts two runways of 1 980m and 1 860m respectively. 13 aircraft parking bays on the apron and terminals measuring 8 700 square metres. The main runway is equipped with full CAT 1 ILS system from both ends.

The modern terminal upgrade, able to handle up to 2 million passengers per year. This was completed by June 2004 within the approved budget.

There is a broad spectrum of passenger services available, including restaurants and coffee shops, car rental companies, a curio shop, cell phone companies and various tourism related services. These include Foreign Exchange and a company specialising in the cost effective handling of excess baggage.

Port Elizabeth Airport


A highlight in Port Elizabeth's history was the first flight to Port Elizabeth from Cape Town in 1917, made by Major Allister Mackintosh Miller. At that time, this was considered a long distance flight, and it heralded the start of the civil aviation industry in Port Elizabeth. This flight and many more has been captured on canvas by Ron Belling and is on display at the Ron Belling Art Gallery.

Port Elizabeth Airport was established in 1929 in close proximity to the city. It was initially founded by Lieutenant Colonel Miller, who needed an airfield to operate his postal service between the city and Cape Town. It was only officially opened some nine years later, in 1936, boasting a single runway, one hangar and a concrete apron. However, the foundations of this infrastructure will be removed to make room for additional vehicle parking.

During World War II, the airfield was extended to accommodate 42 Air School for the Royal Air Force and 6 Squadron South African Air Force on the southern and eastern sides of the field. Commercial operations were conducted from the northern side. 1954 saw the landing of the first jet-propelled aircraft - five De Havilland Vampire FB9s.

Construction of the permanent terminal buildings, runways and an air traffic control building began in 1950. The commercial operation was moved to an airfield at St Albans, some 25km from the city centre, for the construction period. The new buildings were officially opened in 1955. In 1973 the apron was extended to accommodate larger aircraft and a new departures terminal was opened in 1980. The facilities served the airport community until 2000 when plans for a major terminal upgrade were drawn.

These facilities served the community till 2000 when plans for a major terminal upgrade was drawn-up. The separate arrivals and departures buildings were consolidated into a single facility with a central retail area linking the departures with arrivals creating a light friendly atmosphere. This facility caters for domestic flights but can be screened off to operate a fully compliant International arrivals and departures section.

Travellers Information for passengers flying into or out of Port Elizabeth

Airport operations How Port Elizabeth Airport is run

Business opportunities Take advantage of this airport’s excellent opportunities.


Tel +27 (0)41 507 7319


Tel +27 (0)41 507 7290

Tel +27 (0)41 507 7290

Tel +27 (0)41 507 7201 / 1111

Tel +27 (0)44 801 8434

Tel: +27 (0) 508 8000

Tel: +27 (0)41 507 7201 / 1111

Tel: +27 (0) 41 507 7293