31 July 2015

Swaziland: Swazi King Snubs His Own Airport

opinion

King Mswati III of Swaziland has so little faith in the new international airport that has his name that he does not use it.

Instead, he travels in his private jet from Matsapha, the airport that closed to make way for the King Mswati III International Airport (KM111) that was built in a wilderness about 70 km from any major town.

Matsapha remains open from 08.00 to 17.00 Monday to Friday to service the King's needs and also to be available for any emergencies.

The Airport closed to commercial airlines in September 2014, when KM111 became operational.

The information is contained in a report from the Swaziland Civil Aviation Authority (SWACAA).

According to the Observer on Sunday, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati the airport also accommodates the Umbutfo Swaziland Defence Force (USDF) Air Wing, but, 'in most cases now services royal movement as Their Majesties and members of the royal family use it as seen during their departures and arrivals'.

The newspaper also reported, 'The only planes that frequently use the airport are local ones, which according to information gathered, are those from the Flight Academy based at the airport, the army and those from Simunye, Big-Bend, Ngonini and Usuthu forests.

Meanwhile, KM111 (formerly known as Sikhuphe) only has three commercial flights a day leaving the airport, taking a maximum of 150 passengers a day to Johannesburg, South Africa.

The airport, considered a white elephant and vanity project for King Mswati who rules as an absolute monarch cost an estimated E2.5 billion (US$250 million) to build.

Swaziland

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