Johannesburg O. R. Tambo International Airport

OR Tambo terminal buildings
Source: PretoriaTravel
Airport typePublic
OwnerAirports Company South Africa
ServesJohannesburg, South Africa
LocationKempton Park, Ekurhuleni, Gauteng, South Africa
Hub forAirlink Comair FlySafair South African Airways Mango
Time zoneSAST (UTC+02:00)
Elevation AMSL5,558 ft / 1,694 m
Coordinates26°08′00″S 028°15′00″ECoordinates: 26°08′00″S 028°15′00″E

O. R. Tambo International Airport (IATA: JNB, ICAO: FAOR) is a major international airport situated in Kempton Park, Gauteng, South Africa. It serves as the primary airport for domestic and international travel to/from South Africa and is Africa’s busiest airport, with a capacity to handle up to 28 million passengers annually. The airport serves as the hub for South African Airways. The airport handled over 21 million passengers in 2017.

It was originally known as Jan Smuts International Airport, after the former South African Prime Minister of the same name. The airport was renamed Johannesburg International Airport in 1994 when the newly elected African National Congress (ANC) government implemented a policy of not naming airports after politicians. This policy was later reversed, and on 27 October 2006 the airport was renamed O. R. Tambo International Airport after Oliver Reginald Tambo, a former ANC President.

Airport information

An O.R Tambo bust at the aircraft
viewing deck above the CTB.
Source: Bobbyshabangu

O. R. Tambo International Airport is a hot and high airport. Situated almost 1,700 metres (5,500 feet) above mean sea level, the air is thin. The thinner air is also the reason for the longer than usual runways.

O. R. Tambo International Airport is one of only three airports in the Africa-Middle East region—as well as the only one properly located in Africa—that has non-stop flights to all six inhabited continents, the other two being Dubai International Airport and Doha International Airport.

On 10 January 2013 the airport’s ICAO code was changed from FAJS to FAOR.

South African Airways Museum

The South African Airways Museum once was located at the airport. This room full of South African Airways memorabilia was started by two fans of the airline as a temporary location until they could set it up in one of Jan Smuts International’s buildings in 1987. The museum has since relocated to Rand Airport (FAGM).

Aircraft viewing decks

The airport has two viewing decks. One is located above the Central Terminal Building, and the other in an administrative section of the airport above the international check-in counters. There are regular displays of Oliver Reginald Tambo, the airport’s namesake in the viewing decks.

Johannesburg International Airport (aerial view).
Source: user:Mattes


Inside the O. R. Tambo International Airport.
Source: Kaihsu Tai
Check-in booths in the International Terminal.
Source: @fry_theonly Flickr


O. R. Tambo International Airport has two runways (one pair of parallel runways) adjacent to the airport’s terminal buildings. There used to be a third runway, 09/27, but was closed due to the danger it posed. It is now taxiway Juliet.

03L/21R4421m60mPALS CAT IIFully laden aircraft require a far greater length of runway to achieve take-off velocity at this altitude. It is the 33rd longest runway in the world.
03R/21L3405m60mPALS CAT II
European carriers parked at OR Tambo
Source: Hansueli Krapf

The runways are equipped with Approach Lighting Systems. Sequenced flashers are not used at any South African runways and therefore not installed. Touchdown zone (TDZ) lighting is available, but never turned on. Runway Threshold, Edge and Centerline lights are the only lighting available. During busy periods, outbound flights use the western runway (03L/21R) for take-off, while inbound flights use the eastern runway (03R/21L) for landing. Wind factors may cause numerous variations, but on most days flights will take off to the north and land from the south.

Taxiways and aprons

O. R. Tambo International Airport has a network of asphalt taxiways connecting runways, aprons and maintenance facilities. All of these taxiways are 30.5 metres wide, except for taxiway Echo which is 60 metres wide. The airport also has nine aprons. Cargo aircraft park at aprons Golf and Whiskey. Many airlines have their aircraft wait long hours between arriving and departing flights. Such aircraft and other cargo aircraft are parked at aprons Delta and Foxtrot to free up jetbridges. Aprons Alpha, Charlie and Echo have jetbridges that connect them to their respective gates. The Bravo apron is not connected to the terminal building, and thus aircraft that land there must use an airport bus service.


ACSA reported that major new developments took place at the airport, in preparation for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The development includes expansion of the international terminal, with the new international pier (opened in 2009), which includes gates for the Airbus A380 and increased capacity at the same time. A new Central Terminal building, designed by Osmond Lange Architects and Planners, was completed on April 1, 2009.[citation needed] An additional multi-storey parkade was built in January 2010, at a cost of R470 million opposite the Central Terminal Building,[citation needed] plus Terminal A was also upgraded and the associated roadways realigned to accommodate more International Departures space.

The Central Terminal Building (CTB) (cost: R2 billion) boosted passenger capacity at the landside of the terminal in 3 levels, and allows direct access from international and domestic terminals. Additional luggage carousels were added on March 12, 2010 to accommodate the Airbus A380.[citation needed] Arrivals are accommodated on Level 1, with departures expanded on Level 3; Level 2 accommodates further retail and commercial activities. The Gautrain Rapid Rail Link station is above the terminal.

The new International Pier (cost: R535 million) has increased international arrivals and departures capacity in a two-storey structure with nine additional airside contact stands, four of which are Airbus A380 compatible.[citation needed] Air bridges are already in place and the existing duty-free mall will be extended into this area. Additional lounges and passenger-holding areas will be constructed on the upper level.

A second terminal between the two runways has been cancelled. It would have contained its own domestic and international check-in facilities, contact stands, shops and lounges and was projected to cost R8 billion.

Qantas’ 747-400, Air France’s A380-800 in the
background and Lufthansa’s A380-800 “München” D-AIMB to the right.
Source: Hansueli Krapf


There are six terminals at the airport, but these can be broken down into three major areas: the international terminals; the domestic terminals; and the transit terminals. The transit terminal housed disused parts of the old domestic terminals. It has been mostly demolished to build a new Central Terminal that will provide an indoor link between domestic and international terminals, as well as a central passenger check-in area and more gates. It was constructed for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Terminals A1 and A2 handle international passengers while the other two terminals handle domestic passengers. Due to the airport’s design, departure and arrivals terminals are considered separate terminals. The Central Terminal that is under construction will be named Terminal A3 and it will be used for both international and domestic passengers. The airline Mango has its head office on the mezzanine level of the Domestic Departure Terminal.

The two terminals, Terminal A and Terminal B have been restructured. Several airlines now use Terminal B for all check-ins (top floor, adjacent to the arrivals atrium), for both national and international flights. The airlines that moved check-in to Terminal B include South African Airways, SA Airlink, South African Express and Air Mauritius.

Terminals A and B boast over 140 retail stores. The Duty-Free stores are based airside in Terminal A and many of them stock products exclusively available at the airport.

The ample parking available at O. R. Tambo International Airport was revamped as part of the upgrades made prior to the 2010 World Cup with the introduction of state-of-the-art technology that allows visitors to identify available parking spaces easily.

Airlines and destinations


Air AustralSaint-Denis de la Réunion
Air BotswanaFrancistown, Gaborone, Kasane, Maun
Air ChinaBeijing–Capital, Shenzhen
Air FranceParis–Charles de Gaulle
AirlinkAntananarivo, Beira, Bloemfontein, Bulawayo, East London, Entebbe, Gaborone, Harare, Hoedspruit, Kasane, Kimberley, Luanda, Lusaka, Manzini, Maseru,  Maun, Mthatha, Nampula, Ndola, Nelspruit, Nosy Be, Pemba, Phalaborwa, Pietermaritzburg, Polokwane, Port Elizabeth, Richards Bay, Saint Helena A, Sishen, Skukuza, Tete, Upington, Vilanculos, Walvis Bay
Charter: Ascension Island B
Air MadagascarAntananarivo
Air MauritiusMauritius
Air NamibiaWindhoek–Hosea Kutako
Air SeychellesMahé
Air ZimbabweBulawayo, Harare
ASKY AirlinesDouala, Lagos C, Libreville, Lomé D
British Airways[36]Cape Town, Durban, Harare, Livingstone, London–Heathrow, Mauritius, Port Elizabeth, Victoria Falls, Windhoek–Hosea Kutako (all flights suspended except Heathrow line)
Cathay PacificHong Kong
CemAirMargate, Plettenberg Bay
Congo AirwaysKinshasa–N’djili E, Lubumbashi
Delta Air LinesAtlanta
El AlTel Aviv
Ethiopian AirlinesAddis Ababa
Etihad AirwaysAbu Dhabi
FlySafairCape Town, Durban, East London, George, Port Elizabeth
Kenya AirwaysNairobi–Jomo Kenyatta
KLMAmsterdam[54]Cape Town, Durban, East London, George (all flights suspended)
LAM Mozambique AirlinesBeira, Maputo, Nampula F, Pemba G
LATAM BrasilSão Paulo–Guarulhos
Malawian AirlinesBlantyre, Lilongwe H
MangoCape Town, Durban, George, Port Elizabeth, Zanzibar
Proflight ZambiaNdola
Qatar AirwaysDoha I
RwandAirKigali J, Lusaka
Singapore AirlinesSingapore K
South African AirwaysAccra, Blantyre, Cape Town, Dar es Salaam, Frankfurt, Harare, Kinshasa–N’djili, Lagos, Lilongwe, London–Heathrow, Lusaka, Maputo, Mauritius, Nairobi–Jomo Kenyatta, New York–JFK, Perth, Victoria Falls, Washington–Dulles L, Windhoek–Hosea Kutako (all flights suspended except Cape Town until 31 May 2020)
Swiss International Air LinesZürich
TAAG Angola AirlinesLuanda
Turkish AirlinesIstanbul M
Virgin AtlanticLondon–Heathrow

Terminated Airlines : Eritrean Airlines : Asmara Notes

Terminated Airlines : Eritrean Airlines : Asmara Notes


BidAir CargoCape Town, Dar es Salaam, Durban, East London, George, Harare, Kigali, Livingstone, Mauritius, Maputo, Nairobi–Jomo Kenyatta, Port Elizabeth, Victoria Falls, Windhoek-Hosea Kutako
CargoluxLondon–Stansted, Luxembourg, Nairobi–Jomo Kenyatta
EgyptAir CargoCologne/Bonn[
Emirates SkyCargoDubai–Al Maktoum, Nairobi–Jomo Kenyatta
Ethiopian Airlines CargoAddis Ababa
Imperial Air CargoBloemfontein, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth
Lufthansa CargoFrankfurt, Lagos, Nairobi–Jomo Kenyatta
Qatar Airways CargoDoha, Liège, Nairobi–Jomo Kenyatta, Oslo–Gardermoen
Saudia CargoAmsterdam, Jeddah, Nairobi–Jomo Kenyatta
Singapore Airlines CargoAmsterdam, Chennai, Mumbai, Nairobi–Jomo Kenyatta, Singapore
South African Airways CargoBlantyre, Cape Town, Bloemfontein, Dar es Salaam, Durban, Entebbe, Harare, Kinshasa, Lusaka, Maputo, Mauritius, Nairobi–Jomo Kenyatta, Port Elizabeth, Windhoek-Hosea Kutako
Turkish Airlines CargoAntananarivo, Istanbul–Atatürk, Khartoum, Nairobi–Jomo Kenyatta
Uganda Air CargoEntebbe

Other buildings

Airways Park, the head office of South African Airways
Source: NJR ZA

South African Airways is headquartered in Airways Park on the grounds of O. R. Tambo International Airport. The building was developed by Stauch Vorster Architects. Airways Park was completed in March 1997 for R70 Million ($17.5 Million).The fourth floor of the West Wing of the Pier Development of O. R. Tambo has the head office of South African Express.

Ground transport

Gautrain at O. R. Tambo Intl Airport
Source: Nithin bolar k

Rail transit

A transit terminal has been built between the domestic and international terminals. It houses the Gautrain station linking the airport to Sandton, a major business district and a primary tourist area, and, from there, the rest of the Gautrain system.

In September 2006 Gauteng Province contracted Bombardier Transportation for a rail link connecting JohannesburgPretoria, and the airport, with construction to begin immediately. The section linking the airport to Sandton in Johannesburg was completed on 8 June 2010 in time for the World Cup. Trains run 90 trips per day and carry an estimated 60000 passengers daily.


The airport is easily accessible by car and it is located northeast of Johannesburg Central at the eastern end of the R24 Airport Freeway. It can be accessed by the R24 Airport Freeway (also known as the Albertina Sisulu Freeway) from Johannesburg Central and the R21 highway from Pretoria and the central part of the East Rand. The R24 intersects with the R21 near the airport and with the O. R. Tambo Airport Highway. This highway goes through the airport terminals, separating them from the parking bays, but it branches off into two directions: “departures” and “arrivals”, and then it re-branches into the intersection.


Five bus city lines, operated by Metrobus and Putco, pass through the airport twice a day. The buses are accessible in the morning and the evening, when there are many passengers departing and arriving. There are also private bus lines operating express buses to the CBD of Johannesburg, as well as other locations.

Accidents and incidents

Source: .wikipedia.