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Oliver Tambo International Airport

oliver-tamboOriginally known at Jan Smuts International, Oliver Tambo, or Johannesburg International Airport, is the largest airport in South Africa, and a thoroughly modern transport hub that handles more international passenger and cargo traffic than just about any other airport in Africa, and is a showpiece of the South African emphasis on a progressive transport and communication infrastructure.

The Airport

Oliver Tambo International is situated in Kempton Park northeast of Johannesburg and is ideally suited to serve both Johannesburg and its sister city Pretoria to the north. It is highly accessible on the Guateng freeway system which, as has been frequently stated on this site, is a phenomenon that compares favorably with any modern highway system anywhere in the world.

Most flights coming into South Africa arrive via Oliver Tambo, with domestic and regional connections available from here to every quarter of South Africa and almost every destination regionally. The airport has six terminals, divided into three definitive zones, International, domestic and transit, and movement between the three is smooth, well indicated and usually trouble free. The airport has a clean and slick international flavor, with all the usual facilities that might be expected at any airport in any western country.


Preparation for the FIFA 2010 World Cup saw the airport link by rail to the main metropolitan and tourist sites as part of the comprehensive Gautrain light rail transit system, and it will also have a passenger rail link connecting the airport to Johannesburg and Pretoria.

Five bus city lines, operated by Metrobus and Putco, access the ariport twice daily, morning and the evening. There are also a number of private bus lines operating express buses to the Central Business Distirc as well as many other locations.

Most major hotel chains run airport shuttles, and most accommodation options in and around the city operate either a regular shuttle or a prearranged airport pick up.


South Africa is a high crime region, so extra care is advisable at all times. This is particularly true when choosing taxi operators and busses, and it makes sense to always check that your carrier is a listed, reliable and registered operator, which can be confirmed at any of the many information centres.

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