King Shaka International Airport was officially opened in 2010 and has since garnered many accolades. The airport was voted the top Regional Airport for Africa in the Skytrax World Airport Awards in 2013 to 2016, and was second in the 2013/2014/2015/2016 ACI for the Best Airport in the Middle East/Africa category. In 2016 the airport was voted by Skytrax for the Best Airport Staff in Africa!
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The airport is a major economic catalyst for investment and growth in the region. From inception, King Shaka International Airport enjoyed only 5% of international traffic, but this sector has shown great growth to almost 24% presently. In the last quarter of 2015, and during the hosting of the successful World Routes 2015 Qatar Airways; Turkish Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, Zambia and FlySafair were launched and these airlines are now flying to Durban to compliment the current carriers operating at King Shaka International Airport.
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 onwards.
The Durban airport saw a large volume of domestic flights but not as many international flights as the runway was too short for larger aircrafts 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 60km north of Durban) became the primary airport servicing Durban. It was much larger and had a longer runway which could accommodate larger aircraft.