Durban King Shaka Duty Free
Visitors heading to Durban from 2010 will find themselves arriving at a brand new airport. Named after a famous Zulu warrior ruler, King Shaka International is the new gateway to South Africa’s third largest city Durban. The airport is a project 40 years in the making and most recently, part of the country’s R17 billion (£1.53 billion) preparations for the 2010 much-anticipated World Cup.
A bustling, noisy industrial port, Durban has historically attracted settlers from India and other parts of Africa, which is reflected in its architecture and cuisine. The city is famous for its surfer-friendly beaches, bazaars, harbour-front bars and restaurants, as well as the nearby battlefields of the Anglo-Zulu and Boer Wars.
As for King Shaka airport, it is a rarity among new airports nowadays. It is constructed on a completely greenfield site a distant 50 kilometres away from its cramped predecessor, Durban International (which is set to call it a day as soon as the new airport opens on May 1). The airport authority bought the land for the new airport 40 years ago, but a dispute over its ownership and environmental problems over a nearby bird colony are just a couple of reasons why it has taken so long to get off the drawing board.The new airport boast a decent-sized runway, which will allow Boeing 747s and the new Airbus A-380 to use the airport, which it is hoped will encourage more international flights to this part of the country. On the downside the airport is located some 35 kilometres north of town and although the road links are good, there is no train or metro system in place as an alternative. Renting a car then is probably the best option for getting around•the airport’s car rental facility can be accessed from the southern exit of the passenger terminal (tel: 032 436 6034).
If you have time to kill before catching your flight at King Shaka, you will be pleased to know the shopping there is set to be an improvement on Durban international. The space allocated to shops, cafes, restaurants and bars is going to be much larger with over 50 different outlets. One pleasing innovation is a relaxing piazza located outside the terminal with views of the surrounding mountains.
The piazza will be a great place to stop off for a coffee or a proper bite to eat before the ordeals of check-in and security or after your flight has landed. For a hearty South African farm breakfast, tempting sandwiches and wraps, and a meaty menu of mains (think burgers, ribs and bangers), head to Mugg & Bean, who also do a great selection of coffees both hot and iced.Alternatively, if you love fish and seafood, make a beeline for Cape Town Fish Market, a seafood restaurant with branches all over South Africa (and in London). You will be able to buy sushi platters to take away if you are in a rush. Alternatively, the a la carte menu offers local fishy delicacies such as kingklip and hoek, as well as better-known choices such as hake, deep-fried squid, sole and salmon.
Once inside the passenger terminal don’t be in a rush to head through security, especially if you are on an international flight. The pre-security selection of shops will be quite extensive and worth browsing• you will find fashion stores from Nike and Quiksilver, as well as generic sunglasses, leather goods and electronics shops (Express Shades, Moda Leather and Luggage, and Electronics and Music).
Arriving passengers wanting to stock up early on some of South Africa’s fabulous wines should head for The Stables Wine Estate outlet. This small family-owned firm, which owns a picturesque 27-hectare vineyard in KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, has pioneered the production of wine in the local region, and has even won awards for its Sauvignon Blanc and Pinotage wines.It is also worth noting that the ground floor of the passenger terminal will also feature a wide range of amenities, which will include banks, ATM’s, a post office, a chemist (Link Pharmacy), and even a hair salon (The Image Studio).
The rather limited retail line up in the international departures lounge is perhaps a reflection of how few international flights used the old airport. It will be dominated by a duty-free store run by Big Five Duty Free. This same company ran the duty-free concession at the old airport and indeed still operates all of the duty-free stores at South Africa’s other international airports.
Duty-free prices on fragrances, liquor and confectionery offer decent savings over the High Street• a 1-litre bottle of Smirnoff vodka costs R119 (£10.70), for example, which offers a typical saving of around 20%. A 300-gram box of Droste chocolates is priced at R99 (£8.90), which is about 23% cheaper than the typical high street price, while a 200ml Calvin Klein CK Be eau-de-toilette spray is 21% cheaper at R549 (£49.35).
Remember too that the new airport will have a handy arrivals duty-free shop. It will close thirty minutes after the last flight of the day has arrived.Back in international departures, the only other store in this part of the airport will be a rather uninspiring confectionery outlet, Cosmic Candy. So once you are done in duty-free, our advice would be to head for the Rhapsody’s Pub & Grill for a quick drink or snack before your flight (there will be a smoker’s lounge there too).
The retail line up in domestic departure is larger. There will be two South African gift shops (Yes We Can and EM Native Collection, yet another Cosmic Candy outlet, a bookstore (Exclusive Books) and a sportswear shop (Sneakers), which will no doubt be well stocked with plenty of FIFA World Cup merchandise.
King Shaka airport fact file:
Key international airlines: South African Airways, Emirates, Air Mauritius
Annual passenger capacity: 7.5 million
Passenger terminal area: 102,000 square metres
Retail stores: 52
Check-in counters: 72
Parking bays: 6,500
King Shaka airport
Big Five Duty Free