Previously known as Louis Botha Airport (named after the South African statesman), Durban International Airport, was the major airport servicing the Area of Durban until 2010.
The Durban Airport opened in 1951 and carried the name Louis Botha Airport until 1994 – the year of the first Democratic election held in South Africa. This election was won by the ANC and Nelson Mandela was elected the president of South Africa. This brought about many changes including the name Louis Botha Airport. It was known as Durban International Airport from 1994 on wards.
The Durban Airport saw a large volume of Domestic flights but not as many International flights as the runway was too short for larger aircraft's to land. Due to this factor, Durban international Airport lost a lot of international flights! This was one of the major reasons for the change of Location and upgrade that occurred in 2010. All operations seized at Durban International Airport and King Shaka International Airport, (located 60 km North of Durban) became the primary Airport servicing Durban. It was much larger and had a longer runway which could accommodate larger aircraft! Its terminal building, runways and open fields were bought by Transnet from the Airports Company South Africa for nearly R 2-Billion. A Private company — 'Seaworld Aviation' — then stepped in with an ambitious plan to bring the Airport to life, envisaging smaller airlines using it as a hub to get tourists to Durban’s Southern coastline. A lease was signed with Transnet in June 2017 to operate the airport for 10 years — between September 2017 and 2027. But that plan has been put on ice, with Transnet and Seaworld stuck in litigation over the contract they signed.
This Old Airport Building was unfortunately invaded and these tenants have smashed down walls, cut through buildings and repurposed storage tanks meant for aviation fuel. Seaworld blames Transnet for failing to remove the tenants while the Parastatal says Seaworld also broke sub-leasing rules! The Businesses range from a trucking company to an events and conferencing facility, a scrapyard and panel beater to a tile manufacturer. The story behind how all this happened is contained in a series of forensic investigations that were commissioned, but not really acted on, by Transnet itself. These companies haven’t done much damage to the airport. But, further inside the Building, a new hole, smashed through a wall, leads to a tile-cutting Factory.