- Regional airports in the province have been buzzing with activity, with a massive increase in incoming and departing flights of light aircraft.
- Some families fled the province while inbound flights carried food, medicine and security personnel.
- The province had been cut off by days of violent unrest and looting.
While the N3 between Johannesburg and Durban opened on Thursday, smaller airports in KZN have been used as a conduit to evacuate passengers and bring in much needed food supplies and security personnel.
A source at Virginia airport, in the north of the city, said there were about 84 inbound flights on Thursday and 74 outbound. Normally there are five to 10 flights a day.
The source said all the private charters were either evacuating people or bringing in food and private security personnel.
An employee at a charter company based at the facility said yesterday a plane took off or landed every 10 minutes.
“It is people evacuating or business owners going up in choppers to survey damage.”
At Margate airport on the south coast, about 133 km from Durban, 29 light aircraft landed.
Simon April, a spokesperson for the local Ray Nkonyeni municipality, said the increase was probably down to the fact that the roads from Margate to Durban were clear.
“We are seeing a sizeable increase which we think is related to food and medicine. The roads around us are clear and offer safe passage to Durban.”
Low-cost airline FlySafair said it had scheduled extra flights to Durban to transport supplies to the region. A spokesperson also said the airline had increased the carry-on allocation of passengers to accommodate the transfer of food.
A steady stream of traffic was seen on the N3 since it reopened Thursday morning.
At noon, a convoy of 13 fuel tankers was seen driving north up Town Hill near Pietermaritzburg.
The N3 Toll Concession company said law enforcement authorities fully reopened the Toll Route between Cedara in KwaZulu-Natal and Heidelberg in Gauteng.
Road users were warned to expect high traffic volumes, congestion and possible delays.
“It is vitally important to proceed with extreme caution and to stay alert at all times,” the company said.