OR Tambo robbery shooting

OR Tambo International Airport. Image via: wikimedia commons

SOS: Saving Johannesburg’s status as preferred airport hub

Johannesburg has lost its status as an important airport hub for travellers within the Southern African region.

OR Tambo robbery shooting

OR Tambo International Airport. Image via: wikimedia commons

Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport served as a major airport hub for visitors travelling in Southern Africa prior to the pandemic.  

The global slump in travel and tourism, created by the restrictions imposed to limit the movement of people across borders has not helped Johannesburg to maintain its regional airport hub status.


Reduced visitor numbers, as well as fewer flights coming into OR Tambo International Airport, have contributed to Johannesburg losing its status as a preferred airport hub for travellers in the Southern African region.  

Other airlines on the continent now offer convenient alternatives for travellers to destinations in Africa. This has impacted OR Tambo’s status as an airport of choice when flying in the region.

The extensive route networks of other African airlines including Ethiopian Airways and Kenya Airlines means that passengers no longer have to fly into Johannesburg to conveniently reach various destinations in sub-Saharan Africa.     

“The opening-up of Addis Ababa and Nairobi have affected our hub status at OR Tambo. We want to reclaim that status,” Gauteng Tourism Authority’s (GTA)  Barba Gaoganediwe told Tourism Update.


According to Tourism Update, a new air access committee has been formed to promote air connectivity to Johannesburg. Air access committees are pivotal in getting private and public sector stakeholders to work together and in order to activate new air services.

Gauteng Tourism Authority (GTA) will serve on this committee, with the Gauteng Growth and Development Agency, Airports Company South Africa and the City of Ekurhuleni.   

The committee aims to strengthen Johannesburg’s connectivity with key regional and international tourism source markets. This will be achieved through airline route development, strategic partnerships and plans to reclaim OR Tambo’s hub status. 

Gaoganediwe said that airline alliances and partnerships were essential for getting visitors from North and East Africa to use Johannesburg’s OR Tambo as a hub.

“We will have the entire continent covered through airline alliances. We want to work very hard to restore our hub status at OR Tambo,” he said.


Gaoganediwe said that the African region, which is responsible for more than 70% of total inbound international travel was Gauteng’s most significant tourism source market.

The GTA plans to position the province as a value-for-money destination with quality visitor experiences, to attract visitors in 2022.

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