OR TAMBO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

Johannesburg Airport

OR Tambo International Airport

The OR Tambo International Airport is the largest aviation facility in South Africa and the country’s most well-known airport internationally. Though, foreigners still refer to it as Johannesburg airport. This is because it was not always named the OR Tambo International Airport. When the airport was first opened in 1952, it was named for the then President of South Africa, Jan Smuts. In the early 1990's, when a new government came into power in South Africa, the named was changed to a more neutral Johannesburg Airport, named for the city in which it was located. In the 2000's the name was changed yet again, and this time to be named for a leading figure in South African history, Oliver Reginald Tambo. The OR Tambo International Airport will serve as a lasting legacy to all of the sacrifices and commitment of this great man to the nation of South Africa.

The airport has since become one of the foremost in Africa for being the largest, the busiest and for racking up many air passenger and cargo awards. Being the busiest means that the OR Tambo International Airport sees as many as 20 million passengers pass through its doors every year with a steady yearly increase in numbers. When first constructed, the airport was already one of a kind with large terminal buildings and many runway options.


The passenger count grew after South Africa was re-embraced by the rest of the world after the apartheid regime was overthrown. Suddenly, people of colour were allowed to travel by plane and leave the country and foreigners were once again allowed into the country. An expansion was necessary for the terminals to be able to handle this increasing number. The runways just needed a bit of an upgrade as they were already large enough, and long enough to handle some of the bigger aircraft used on international air travel. The terminal buildings however, needed a major expansion and some added facilities. The terminal buildings at OR Tambo International Airport are adjoined to each other, so expansion was undertaken both outwards and upwards. The architectural design was careful to take into consideration the special needs of those people with limited mobility incorporating ramps and lifts at each terminal building.


The layout of the OR Tambo International Airport is such that each terminal will house a different airport facility. There is a departures terminal where all of the check-in and boarding is done. There is an arrivals terminal where baggage is collected and immigration offices are located. There is another terminal which has the 1 hundred plus stores available at the airport which offer a duty free shopping experience. The other terminals have the added facilities that were added during the expansion such as prayer rooms, conference centre and airport business class lounges. The new layout aims to make taking a flight at the OR Tambo International Airport not only simple and straightforward but to have their guests have ample choices when it comes to occupying themselves whilst waiting for th