Welcome to South Africa's largest city and financial center — not to mention the continent's best aviation infrastructure.
Tambo International sits more than a thousand feet higher at 5,558 ft. elevation and thus is equipped with long runways to accommodate summertime density altitude considerations for fuel-laden and . Runway 3L/29R, measuring 14,495 ft., is one of the longest in Africa and once was a designated emergency landing strip for the space shuttle. Its parallel sibling, 3R/29L, is 11,155 ft. long.
Transient business aircraft operators will find Tambo more restricted, as parking there is limited to 72 hr. in one spot, after which the operator is required to move the aircraft to a remote area. “Tambo is not corporate aviation-friendly,” Bartholomew said, adding that “they park you out in the boondocks and sometimes forget about you.”
Furthermore, the field does not host an FBO, and passengers are transported to the main terminal for customs clearance. Unlike Lanseria, Tambo does not provide a dedicated waiting lounge for business aviation, but a fast-track clearance service prearranged by handlers is available. Fuel is sold by the concessionaire for the airport. “Surface traffic is really congested coming out of Tambo, as well, and it can often take a while to get downtown,” Bartholomew said.
As the South African capital of Pretoria is situated only 50 km/31 sm to the northeast, operators intending to visit there generally use Jo-burg's airports. Again, Lanseria is the preferred field since it is the closest to the capital.
At both airports, “security is monitored 24/7,” Bartholomew said, “and managers at both airports have told us that private guards for the aircraft are unnecessary.” In his experience working flights into Jo-burg and other South African destinations, Bartholomew said he has yet to receive a complaint about unnecessarily high fees or price gouging. As with fuel, pricing for other commodities and services, such as hotels and meals, tends to mirror developed countries in Europe and North America. Operators should expect airport and navigation use fees, the latter due to South Africa's privatized ATC system.
As already noted, operating within South Africa is as straightforward as doing so in North America or Western Europe, and once the aircraft clears customs at a port of entry, the operator is free to roam throughout the country. Note, however, that visiting operators must depart the country out of a POE and, again, clear customs. Should a mechanical or avionics problem occur, high-quality maintenance for nearly all business jet types is available at major population centers.
As hunting in South Africa is popular sport, operators carrying firearms into the country are advised that their guns must be cleared with customs at the POE. The operator's handling agent will transfer the firearms separately from passengers to the terminal and vice versa on departure.
The traditionally high levels of in-country poverty have contributed to a commensurate crime rate. The Johannesburg city government has made the reduction of street crime a priority in a major effort to redevelop and revitalize the city center, which began a deterioration in the early 1990s. Also, in the federal government's preparations for the World Cup, security and law-enforcement consultants from other countries were invited to develop strategies to mitigate especially street crime. While some success was achieved, there are still areas of Johannesburg that probably should be avoided by visitors. So, Bartholomew advised, “Be cautious on the street; stay within the areas recommended by your hotel. Exercise normal precautions when downtown.”
Often, cabs hired off the street can be risky, so use only transportation that has been vetted by your hotel or handler, and explore the city in groups when you go out at night.
Another precaution involves HIV/AIDS, which has devastated Africa in general and South Africa in particular, where 5.7 million people are believed to be infected with the immunodeficiency disease. The World Health Organization estimated that in just 2007 alone, 350,000 deaths occurred as a result of AIDS, ranking South Africa number one in the world in terms of AIDS-related mortality. Food- and water-borne infectious diseases, such as hepatitis A, typhoid fever and bacterial diarrhea, are a serious concern, too, as is sexually transmitted syphilis.
Reportedly, the safest district to stay in — and the one where many of the financial institutions and businesses formerly headquartered downtown have now migrated — is Sandton, a 20-min. drive from Lanseria. It hosts many luxury hotels, a convention center, extensive retail and office areas, restaurants and is a favorite with tourists as well. BCA