Connecting you to your next experience: celebrating 30 years of ACSA and democracy

Airports Company South Africa recently marked its 30th anniversary – a proud milestone that coincides with South Africa’s celebration of three decades of democracy.

Airports Company South Africa recently marked its 30th anniversary – a proud milestone that coincides with South Africa’s celebration of three decades of democracy.

Published May 9, 2024


By Laurie Less at ACSA

South Africa’s celebration of three decades of democracy this year coincides with Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) recently marking its 30th anniversary – a shared journey that has underscored the indomitable spirit of our country and its people in overcoming hardship and seeking a better future for all.

Since ACSA’s inception in July 1993 – just a few months before the dawn of democracy in April of 1994 – the company has established itself as the leading airports management company in the African region, and in so doing has made an indelible socio-economic impact on our country.

As the world opened its doors to the Rainbow Nation post the political transition three decades ago that saw the country emerge from the shadows of apartheid-era sanctions, it became evident that ACSA would have to provide the crucial gateways that connect South Africa to destinations across the globe and facilitate the movement of millions of passengers and cargo each year.

Today, ACSA, as the operator of all major airports in South Africa – including OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, Cape Town International Airport and King Shaka International Airport in Durban – plays a pivotal role in providing world-class airport facilities and services.

As the operator of all major airports in South Africa, ACSA plays a pivotal role in providing world-class airport facilities and services.

Additionally, ACSA has successfully positioned itself as a vital part of South Africa’s tourism value chain. This was partly achieved by developing world-class airport infrastructure designed to meet the needs of its customers and which is aligned with industry requirements to support ACSA’s vision of being a world-leading airport management business.

As a key enabler of economic growth, transformation and socio-economic development, the company typically contributes close to a staggering R9 billion to South Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP) – positioning it as a vital role player in economic stimulation.

At a national level, ACSA’s network is a modal integrator that facilitates trade, tourism and investment. The organisation generates revenue through various sources including aeronautical, non-aeronautical and commercial activities.

At a macro level, ACSA has developed a new global strategy to further South Africa’s foreign and bilateral relations in trade, tourism and air transportation; contribute to the broader continental focus on airport development and management; endorse regional economic integration; and maximise the potential benefit to the group from the African Open Skies initiative.

However, ACSA’s contribution to the economic growth and development of South Africa extends beyond just the numbers. Instead, they tell a story of a key enabler of economic growth, transformation and socio-economic development. The Group’s extensive and wide-ranging socio-economic development (SED) programmes are focused on its sustainability framework, which covers business, people, society and the environment.

Up to the outbreak of Covid-19, the company had contributed beyond the legislated 1% of net profit after tax to SED - and even during the toughest times of the pandemic, it continued to give back to needy communities.

ACSA’s total SED spent from FY2018/2019 to FY2021/22 amounted to R101 million. While it invested R46mn in SED projects in 2019, spending dropped to R14mn in FY2020/21; R10mn in FY2021/22; and R13.7mn in the current financial year. Yet, this does not mean that the Group is abandoning its SED commitments – and IT is hoping to ramp up SED spending as and when its financial performance recovers.

Furthermore, ACSA has recently embarked on the implementation of its ESG framework, a first in the African aviation industry. Our approach to ESG is embedding an integrated, collaborative and sustainable approach to accelerate its social and economic transformation agenda which focuses on transforming its business, people, society and the environment in which it operates to effect meaningful and sustainable change.


As a state-owned company, supporting transformation internally and within society is an intrinsic part of ACSA’s value creation story. Its integrated transformation agenda is aligned with South Africa’s National Development Plan, informed by its Sustainability Framework and focuses on transforming its people, supplier base, society and environment. Its commitment to developing the socio-economic status of previously disadvantaged South Africans through initiatives has always gone beyond legislation and focused on tangible developments to strengthen our democracy.

ACSA is currently exploring the diversification of revenue generation, with cargo being an area where it is looking to expand its role in the airport management business beyond just the facilitation of passengers and aircraft.

ACSA is a vital part of South Africa’s tourism value chain, and a key enabler of economic growth, transformation and socio-economic development.

Additionally, improved connectivity is integral to ensuring that South Africa remains a competitive investment destination for trade and tourism, with route and traffic development being a key part of ACSA’s work to ensure it grows its footprint and enhances its connectivity as an airport network; boosting the country’s connectivity to global markets.

Considering its current robust position, ACSA is set to commence with its largest capital investment programme since preparing for the 2010 FIFA World Cup – another proud milestone for South Africa – which will see the expansion and upgrade of key infrastructure at a number of its airports.

This programme is in line with ACSA’s goals to meet its current infrastructure needs and also ensure preparedness to meet future demand. As such, ACSA has earmarked R21.7bn for airport infrastructure development.

This large-scale infrastructure development programme will see ACSA’s already world-class airports benefit from enhanced facilities that will allow them to continue leading as Africa’s best airports, while also increasing our leading position globally.

Over the next two years, ACSA will embark on crucial capacity expansion projects at Chief Dawid Stuurman International Airport in Gqeberha in the Eastern Cape, and at George Airport in the Western Cape.

ACSA is planning to build a new cargo terminal called Midfield Cargo at OR Tambo International Airport. This project is a priority due to the high demand for cargo capacity and the proposal to develop a Midfield passenger terminal at a later stage. Other significant projects at OR Tambo International Airport will include the extension of the bussing gates, which will entail the addition of six new bussing gates to the existing Terminal A bus terminal.

Additional projects will focus on augmenting the airport’s retail, seating and holding lounge areas. Meanwhile, phase 2 of this project will see the construction of a new mezzanine level aimed at enhancing circulation and optimising seating and holding space.

At Cape Town International Airport, ACSA will give priority to the domestic arrivals terminal reconfiguration to meet growing capacity demands. King Shaka International will see the development of a new hotel, given that it is a relatively new airport, with a terminal expansion project earmarked for the future.

The past 30 years have not always been smooth sailing – not for ACSA and not for our burgeoning democracy. However, we have weathered many storms, and ACSA is on a positive growth trajectory; a clear indicator of the aviation sector’s overall recovery. We are open for business and ready to connect you to your next experience.

* The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Independent Media.