Eastgate Airport near the Kruger National Park just got a R20 million makeover

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Eastgate Airport, near Hoedspruit in Limpopo, has undergone a R20 million refurbishment. Upgrades to the airport, which serves as a gateway to the Kruger National Park, started shortly after South Africa was first plunged into a coronavirus-induced lockdown.

Eastgate Airport is roughly 68 kilometres away from Kruger National Park's Orpen Gate. It stems from the southern end of Hoedspruit Airforce Base, home to 19 Squadron helicopter unit, being converted to a civilian airport in the late 1990s. It was also earmarked for NASA shuttle landing in the 1980s.

More recently, it serves a key access point to the Kruger National Park and surrounding private game reserves in Limpopo and Mpumalanga. An average of 150 flights and 7,000 passengers pass through Eastgate Airport at any given month.

And with a growing client base of surrounding residents and incoming tourists, airport management embarked on a refurbishment project which was completed at the start of November.

The upgrades included adding more check-in counters and increasing the size of the departure lounge and baggage claim area. Eastgate Airport's curio shop and refreshment kiosk were also revamped, along with the entrance gate and parking area which now features a shaded area for select vehicles.

The shaded parking area, sponsored by Kapama Private Game Reserve, allows visitors to hope directly into a game vehicle.

The boarding area has also been upgraded to include a comfortable and sheltered waiting area with sufficient seating. Previously, "passengers had to wait in the hot sun until boarding" according to a statement issued by Eastgate Airport in announcing the refurbishment's completion.

"Return guests and residents of the area who previously used Eastgate Airport cannot believe the transformation. It' much more spacious, check-in is smoother, luggage is handled quickly, and the waiting area is much more comfortable," said the statement.

In addition to servicing private charter flights, Eastgate Airport is frequented by two commercial airlines; Airlink and CemAir.

The flight from Johannesburg to Hoedspruit AFB (FAHS) takes just 55 minutes and the cost of a one-way ticket starts at around R1,551 on Airlink and R1,424 on Cemair. Both airlines also operate the two-and-a-half-hour flight from Cape Town.

Avis also operates a car rental service at Eastgate Airport, offering multi-seater vehicles with air-conditioning for self-drive safaris through the Kruger National Park.

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