Johannesburg Airport Guide
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Getting to Johannesburg Airport

O.R Tambo Airport was, a few years ago, referred to as Johannesburg International Airport, and when it first opened, as Jan Smuts Airport. Its new name is in honor of Oliver Reginald Tambo, a former South African National Congress President. The airport is located in Kempton Park, Ekurhuleni, Gauteng, in the country of South Africa. O.R Tambo Airport’s official code is JNB, and it is the largest airport on the continent of Africa, with a capacity to handle 28 million passengers per year. The airport is located in North-East Johannesburg, South Africa’s capital city, and is the primary airport base for airline companies such as South African Airways, Kulula.com and South African Express. Motorists can easily reach the airport as it is well connected to a couple of major highways.

Johannesburg’s airport is found approximately 19 km, or 12 miles to the east of the city, and motorists with a satellite navigation system can use the co-ordinates of 26°08′21″S, 28°14′46″E. Areas nearby the airport include Boksburg, Benoni, Germiston and Witwatersrand. Just to the north of the airport, is the noteworthy area of Kempton Park. Many people who live in South Africa drive their own cars for transport, as the public transport system is not as extensive, or as safe as railway and bus networks in other countries. The main highways leading to O.R Tambo International Airport include those of the N1, R24 and R21. The highway on which the airport is situated actually runs between the terminal and the parking areas, before its splits in two directions, leading to arrivals and departures.

Driving to O.R Tambo International Airport from the city center

Motorists traveling to the airport from the center of Johannesburg will first travel out of the city on the R24 highway. The R24 is also known as the Airport Freeway. From the freeway, the N3 Eastern Bypass is taken, leading onto the R21, and motorists will notice signposts to the airport.

Driving to O.R Tambo International Airport from Pretoria


Pretoria is a major area in South Africa located just 40 km, or 25 miles from O.R Tambo International Airport. The airport lies to the south of Pretoria, and therefore motorists from this area will travel in a southerly direction on the R21 highway. The trip to the airport from Pretoria will take approximately 45 minutes, but motorists should be aware that traffic in Johannesburg can be very busy, and congestion is common during peak traffic hours. Sufficient time should be left for driving to the airport, finding suitable parking, and checking-in at the Central Terminal.

O.R Tambo Airport’s facilities were recently expanded to include the new Central Terminal building and a new international pier with four aircraft stands dedicated to the larger Airbus A380. The airport consists of six terminals, but these areas can mostly be divided into an area for international arrivals and departures and buildings dedicated to handling all passengers for domestic flights. The recent upgrades to the airport were completed for the FIFA Soccer World Cup, for which South Africa received hosting rights, and many of the terminals were renovated. Other airports, railway stations and bus stations around South Africa were improved for this event as well.

The new Central Terminal now handles all check-in procedures, and passengers may also use the self-service check-in kiosks, or Flightcheck, should they be compatible with their airline company. The Flightcheck kiosks offer a faster and more convenient way to prepare for departure flights, and are machines which have simple touch screen displays which are very user-friendly. Passengers can also check the status of their flight in numerous ways, which include calling the Airports Company South Africa’s automated flight-information service, calling the information desk, or by sending an SMS with your flight number to 35007. Live arrivals and departures are also available online.

O.R Tambo International Airport has a large terminal building with many facilities for its passengers. There is the Premier Conference Center in the domestic terminal with rooms of various sizes for meetings, internet access provided by Airport Online, a medical clinic which offers 24 hour emergency treatment, as well as many other dental and physiological treatments, baggage trolleys, public telephones, baby changing facilities and a chapel and prayer room for Muslim passengers. A number of shops are available which offer mobile phone rentals, and all other services in connection with mobile phones and communication. A wide range of banks, currency exchange services, shopping outlets and restaurants can be found at O.R Tambo Airport, and the whole building is accessible by disabled passengers. The airport is also home to the South African Airways Museum, filled with memorabilia of this important airline carrier.

Should you not wish to bring your own vehicle to the airport, there are a few alternative forms of transport available.  Bus transport is provided by public Metrobuses, and many private companies such as Magic Bus and Airport link, while the new Gautrain rail service connects Johannesburg’s airport to Sandton. Official taxis can also be used for transport to the airport. Further information for directions to O.R Tambo International Airport, and its airport services, can be found online, at http://www.airports.co.za.