A guide to Bhisho airport

Picture Henk Kruger/Cape Argus

Picture Henk Kruger/Cape Argus

Published May 4, 2023


The Bulembu airport in Bhisho in the Eastern Cape is operated by the Eastern Cape provincial department.

When United Arab Emirates President Sheik Mohamed bin Zayed al Nahyan wanted to land in South Africa, he was given several options where his jet, transporting a massive entourage and cargo, could land.

The Eastern Cape provincial department of transport asked that the airport be declared a port of entry.

The airport was built in the 1980s by the then-Ciskei government.

After the elections in 1994, when Bantustans ceased to exist, the airport was taken over by the Eastern Cape provincial department of transport.

The airport has not been fully operational for many years. There are reports that it is used by the military and SAPS Airwing.

After the request by the Eastern Cape provincial government to declare the airport in Bhisho a port of entry, the national government acceded to the request.

Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said al Nahyan had been given the choice of landing at OR Tambo International Airport, King Shaka airport in Durban or Cape Town International Airport because of the large delegation travelling with him and the cargo they had.

Al Nahyan opted to land in Bhisho.

The national government then sent officials from the Department of Home Affairs, the South African Revenue Service, the SAPS and customs to Bisho to handle the arrival and clearance of various nationalities travelling with the UAE president.

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