A coup for the government was award of the 2010 World Cup matches by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), which brought millions of soccer fans to South Africa during mild Southern Hemisphere winter weather. Hosting the huge event (at several venues in addition to Johannesburg) signified a rejoining of the international community by the republic and a validation that it had come of age. A byproduct of the games was to expose the country, its democracy, infrastructure and scenic beauty (not to mention the vuvuzela plastic horn so popular with local soccer fans) to the larger world.
Johannesburg, the southern continent's financial center, is the linchpin of the South African economy, generating 16% of its GDP. Although the historic country, colonized first by the Dutch and later the British, was founded on diamond and gold mining, other industries have emerged over the years to drive the economy as reserves of the precious minerals decline. Among them are steel and cement manufacturing; mining for other minerals like coal; electronics and IT; banking and insurance; real estate; tourism; and transportation, including a vibrant aviation establishment. Accordingly, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) is Africa's largest and most active.
The city is also a province and divided into districts and outlying entities. Thus, depending on how the metro area is described, Johannesburg's population can vary from 4.4 million (the city proper) to as high as 10.3 million when all neighborhoods and districts are included. It is situated on a plateau, the Highvelt, in the northeastern part of the country at an elevation of 5,751 ft. The city boasts a well-developed mass transit, freeway and railway system, the last two linking it with the country's other population centers. Since the end of apartheid, Johannesburg's motto has been “United in Development.”
Modern Aviation Infrastructure
While many companies headquartered in “Jo-burg” — the city's most-used nickname, second-most being “Jozi” — operate business jets, chartering is a popular alternative, with some 25 in-country providers offering the service with turbine-powered aircraft, according to the Business Aviation Association of South Africa (BAASA). Much of this fleet is managed aircraft owned by the aforementioned companies.
The country's aviation infrastructure — especially ATC — is rated by visiting pilots as the finest on the continent. Radio quality is excellent, English is universally spoken by controllers, and radar coverage is available in all major cities. Air traffic management has been privatized and is provided by Air Traffic and Navigation Services Co. (ATNS).
Visas are not required for citizens of the U.S. or Canada or most European countries; however, there are countries for which they are required, and in these cases, visas must be obtained in advance. South Africa will not award them on arrival. Passenger and crew passports must have at least two unstamped pages.
On the other hand, according to Tim Bartholomew, manager, flight operations, at Rockwell Flight Information Solutions, landing permits are required for both non-commercial (i.e., FAR Part 91 or equivalent) and charter operators and, for the former, can generally be obtained in as little as 24 hr. Required information includes destination airport (which must be a POE), arrival date and time, and full names of crew and passengers, along with dates of birth, nationalities, and passport numbers and expiration dates.
“On weekends they will allow aircraft on short notice to come in without a landing permit — that is, they will accept a filed flight plan only,” Bartholomew said. “They tend to be very accommodating. I've never heard of an issue that anyone's had flying within South Africa.”
For commercial operators, a little more documentation is necessary: e.g., a copy of the air operations certificate (AOC), if carrying more than eight passengers. Other documents necessary for either category of operation include airworthiness certification, aircraft registration and a copy of the operator's insurance policy. As always when heading to another continent or country, it's recommended to check the policy to ascertain if the trip is covered or whether a rider should be purchased.