Airport History – From Jan Smuts To OR Tambo

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The Airport, which, (many still refer to the Airport as the “Johannesburg Airport”, is Located in Kempton Park, Ekurhuleni, just outside Johannesburg. It is Africa’s busiest Airport with the capacity to handle up to 28 million passengers annually.  

Airport - OR Tambo International OR Tambo International Airport

Before, it was known as the Johannesburg International Airport.  Many years ago, before 1952, it was known as Jan Smuts Airport, named after a previous Prime Minister.  Back in those years, it was a highly frequented spot by many people, young and old, including families, for a Sunday outing.  People would walk around, kids were in awe watching one or two planes land or take off.  There was a very nice restaurant which served good food. It was a very special occasion to go for lunch or dinner.   How things have changed from those easy going tranquil days to this very busy world as we know it today.

It now employs approximately 18 000 people to cater for and keep its modern infrastructure and comprehensive services running smoothly, for plus minus,  28-million passengers a year, after the extensive upgrades.  The terminal development has been accompanied by upgrades of adjacent aprons and the road network feeding the airport.

  • In the 2015 World Airport Awards, OR Tambo was named the best airport in Africa.
  • In terms of passenger traffic, it is the busiest Airport in Africa, tipping Cairo to the top spot.
  • The Airport It plays host to 47 airlines and is one of the few Airports in the world that has direct, non-stop flights to six continents.
  • The upgraded terminals offer an array of restaurants and shops, a duty-free retail mall for international travellers, and a conference centre and business support facility.
  • The Airport terminals were designed to encourage natural movement of passengers, as well as to cater for the needs of disabled people, with lifts placed in the centre of the terminal for easy wheelchair access.
  • Pick-up and drop-off facilities directly outside the terminal ensure easy access for arriving and departing passengers.
  • Travellers are advised to arrive at the Airport at least one-and-a-half hours before the departure time of their domestic flight, or three hours before the departure time of an international flight.
  • The airport’s 24-hour medical clinic offers a wide variety of services to travellers, including emergency services. The public can see a physiotherapist, consult a doctor, have their eyes tested, visit the dentist – and those worried about the lines around their eyes can go for Botox injections.
  • There is wireless connectivity, with hotspots in the domestic terminal (retail-level restaurants; departures-level restaurants and boarding gates); and in international (airline lounges; international arrivals terminal; mezzanine-level restaurants; and the duty-free mall). Pay-as-you-go vouchers are available at the Post-Net on the food court level.
  • If you don’t have a laptop or a Wi-Fi card, there are also internet cafés where you can use a fixed connection network.
  • With more than 16 300 parking bays,  there is ample parking including  multi-story parkades, shade parking, Carport and open parking.

An alternative to parking on site and walking all the way to the check-in counter is to employ a valet service. . With an airport valet service to meet you at departures and securely park your car, for a long or short term, and meeting you again on return.  Your travel experience is that much more pleasant and STRESS-FREE!