MOSHOESHOE I International Airport, the country’s only international airport, faces forced closure by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) due to several years of neglect which have left its facilities in a state of disrepair, the Lesotho Times can reveal.

The Director of Civil Aviation Department, Motsoale Lesupi, this week told this publication that the government was now in a race against time to refurbish the “collapsing” airport by next year, failing which it would be closed or downgraded to a domestic airport catering only for local flights.

Mr Lesupi said the Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA) had now been awarded a tender to refurbish the airport at an estimated cost of M500 million.

Should the work not be finished on time for an inspection by the ICAO sometime next year, the airport could be forcibly closed by the international body, tasked with regulating all international aviation activities, he said.

Its closure will create a massive crisis as new travel arrangements would have to be made for His Majesty King Letsie III, Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro, ministers, government officials, diplomats, captains of industry and other ordinary travellers who rely on the airport for international travel.

State officials could alternatively resort to using military planes, which in itself would be a logistical nightmare, because special permits to fly such planes into South Africa would have to be obtained to avoid conflict with that country’s defence force.

More likely, they will be forced to travel long distances by road to international airports in South Africa.


SOURCE: Lesotho Times


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