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OR TAMBO HIT BY CASH HEIST

Date published 13.03.2017

METRED taxi drivers, protesting what they claim is a threat to their business by Uber, blocked highways leading to and from OR Tambo airport last Friday, causing flight delays and hundreds of passengers to miss flights. Airlines scrambled to re-book inconvenienced passengers but many customers were expected to be out of pocket due to booking conditions.

It was the second crisis at Johannesburg’s major airport, following a heist of an estimated R20-million in foreign currency. The Tourism Business Council of South Africa said at the weekend that it welcomed increased security measures, which were subsequently introduced.

Armed gunmen posing as police officers broke into a container at the airside of the airport.

The TBCSA said it was “engaging with industry role-players based in the ORTIA precinct and nationally to address issues of safety and security affecting tourists and tourism businesses” but that news of the security breach was “deeply worrying, particularly from a destination point of view”.

Chief Executive Officer Mmatšatši Ramawela said the incident “cast a shadow of doubt and fuelled negative public speculation about the level of security at our airports, especially ORTIA, which is our leading airport in the country… This is no time for our country to have negative headlines on the safety and security as we need the increased tourist numbers to continue boosting our economic growth, which is in turn good for the image of our country,” she said.

Ms. Ramawela spoke at last week’s ITB Berlin trade show, where delegates and exhibitors faced significant delays of their own, with a 25-hour strike at Berlin’s two major airports grounding almost all flights on Friday.

• Follow @TIR_SA for live updates on services to and from Berlin and OR Tambo.


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