Upington Airport (IATA: UTN, ICAO: FAUP) is an airport located in Upington, Northern Cape, South Africa. At 4900 metres, runway 17/35 is one of the longest runways in the world. The high elevation of the airport, extremely high summer temperatures and the fact that it was designed for the Boeing 747 necessitated the extreme length of the main runway.
With the fall of the Portuguese regime in Angola, South African Airways lost its landing rights in Luanda. In addition to restrictions to overflying African states, there was concern that the country would lose its landing rights at the Ivory Coast and Ilha do Sal (Cape Verde).
Upington Airport's runway was built to accommodate a Boeing 747 with a full load of passengers, cargo and fuel, so that it could take off for Europe without having to stop along the way. Upington was chosen because of its strategic position, availability of land and comparatively lower height above sea level than Johannesburg.
Upington Airport was opened in 1968 as Pierre van Ryneveld Airport. In 1974 a corrugated iron fire station was erected but this structure was converted into administrative offices for airport management and other administrative staff in 1996 and the fire station was relocated.
From August 1976 to December 1996, South African Airways made use of Upington as a refuelling station for two weekly scheduled Boeing 747 flights to London and Zurich.
The Concorde did flight testing at Upington Airport in June of 1976.
The only scheduled flights into Upington Airport is a passenger service operated by Airlink. This service operates the following flights:
Aircraft used for this service includes BAe Jetstream 41 and Embraer ERJ 135 aircraft.
Upington Airport serves as an international cargo hub. Most flights are non-scheduled chartered flights operating in the months of November to January to export grapes from the region directly to Europe and other countries. As much as 1,000,000 tonnes of grapes are exported every year.
Private charter flights are provided by Walker Flying Services who operates Cessna 210 and Cessna 402 aircraft.
Many major car manufacturers bring their cars and commercial vehicles to Upington to test them in the hot dry and sunny conditions. These cars and test teams are flown into and out of Upington Airport using chartered planes.
Airport services and capacity
Services at Upington Airport include:
Statistics for the 2007 financial year at Upington Airport:
Flying services include:
Upington Airport’s uncommonly long runway and its strategically advantageous location, close to South Africa’s northern borders, makes it ideally placed to serve the African continent. For this reason the airport is to be developed into a major cargo hub that will serve sub-Saharan Africa directly from South Africa’s Northern Cape Province. As well as improvements to the airport itself, ACSA will be preparing land around the airport for development to support the inevitable boost to the local economy.
It is also the NASA Southern Hemisphere Spacecraft landing site
Planning is also under way at Upington Airport to construct a facility for the long-term parking of mothballed aircraft.
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The content above was published at Airports-Worldwide.com in 2010.
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