Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma officially reopened the Waterkloof Air Force Base runway on Thursday which has been upgraded to accommodate both military and commercial aircraft.
The President, who arrived at the airport late last night, unveiled a plaque at the revamped airport.
Minister of Public Works, Geoff Doidge, said Phase 1 of the renovation project had been completed. The entire project includes the redesigning of runways and taxiways, upgrading of the lighting system and drainage system, new hangars and logistics buildings.
Speaking at the event, Doidge said that after completion, the air force base would be used for humanitarian operations and as well as for the accommodation of commercial aircrafts.
The base was originally designed as a fighter and medium-sized cargo air force base, operating mainly the Hercules C130 as the largest aircraft, but the airport will now be able to accommodate the Airbus A380, the Airbus 400M, the Boeing 747 400 and other large-bodied aircraft, both military and commercial.
The construction of the VIP departure lounge, usually used by the President as well as high-profile international delegates visiting the country, has also been completed.
The base is also the home base for the Presidential Squadron of the South African Air Force.
The upgrade will also ensure continued future operational status at the base for a period of 30 years. The entire work on the Base is set for completion in November 2011.
Waterkloof Air Force Base is the largest operational base within Southern Africa, providing a crucial military role. It is also used for humanitarian operations and can accommodate commercial air traffic.