An open letter to the Airports Company of South Africa

The Eastern Cape is one of the poorest provinces in South Africa. Only a seagull can put a deposit on a BMW and with the declining fish populations even that is becoming a struggle.

However, if you are bitten by the harsh beauty of the Eastern Cape you will never leave. So many commute from the Eastern Cape to destinations around the world and eke out a living. Yes, the Eastern Cape economy benefits from money brought home from all over.

This all makes the parking lot at Port Elizabeth airport the most valuable property in the Eastern Cape. Nothing else comes close to scoring R100 per day for perhaps 25 m² of tar.

For some odd reason most commuters return from Johannesburg to Port Elizabeth between 5 and 6 PM. All the airlines seem to land within five minutes of each other, disgorging up to 400 passengers. All tired and weary from their work in travels.

Port Elizabeth is known to be the ‘Friendly City.’ So seeking further amusement family and friends turn out in droves to welcome commuters home. Add in a gaggle of tourists and hunters being welcomed by their hosts and yes, there is a friendship in abundance outside the arrivals hall.

But that’s about where it stops. Then everyone has to get out of the airport.

The machinery and staff allocated to the apparently simple logistics of collecting parking fees seem to have been long forgotten by ACSA. Machinery is old and unreliable. Probably a hand-me-down from other airports long since upgraded.

The unfortunate staff are left to face the barrage of consumer anger stemming from long cues and doting dads determined to let their kids try and enter money while the rest of the world waits.

By the time the whole performances is over one needs a drink. But that cannot be arranged as one only have 15 minutes to exit the parking or face the prospect repeating the entire unpleasant performance.

Regular commuters have endured this problem for years. Complaints abound but perhaps the return on investment from the parking lot does not warrant an upgrade.

Please ACSA, some action is needed!