8 Reasons King Shaka International Is One Of The World’s Best Airports

My heart lifts every time the plane begins its gentle descent over the rolling green KZN hills towards King Shaka International Airport.

This gleaming metropolis of an airport cost a whopping R6.8 Billion to build and frequently wins prestigious awards such as the 2015 Skytrax Best Airport in World Handling under 5 Million Passengers and Best Regional Airport in Africa 2015.

Already in its 5th year of operation, the airport makes it its agenda to celebrate art, music and Kwa Zulu Natal heritage, challenging the idea that an airport has a single purpose while including artists and musicians from the local community.
Header Image of Buzz the KSIA working dog and Dudes Govender his handler courtesy of Green Dogs Conservation

Snoop Lion arriving in King Shaka Int courtesy of Al Nicoll Photography

1. Well connected to the world

Turkish Airlines arrives in Durban

Turkish Airlines maiden voyage to King Shaka Int courtesy of King Shaka International Airport Facebook

King Shaka International is exceptionally well connected internationally and locally with Turkish Airline flights directly to and from Istanbul and Proflight flights directly to Lusaka, Zambia. On the 16 December this year Ethiopian Airlines commences flights to and from Addis Ababa and a day later Qatar Airways begins its Doha-Durban schedule. There are also direct flights to Mauritius via her national carrier Air Mauritius and direct flights to Dubai with Emirates. On the local front FlySafair has joined a legion of low cost carriers now servicing the Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg routes.

For unbeatable Durban flights go here.

2. Designed for the future

The 3.7 km runway was built to handle the largest airliners on the planet with the world’s largest passenger airliner the double-decker British Airways Airbus A380-800 using the airport for training in 2014.  The largest passenger liner servicing King Shaka International at present is Emirates’ Boeing 777-300ER. They also have a fully automated cargo terminal, one of only two on our continent. By 2060 its expected to have two parallel runways and the capacity to handle 45 million passengers each year.

3. Al fresco dining

Balmy Durban weather makes an iced coffee at a restaurant outside the air-conditioned airport the best decision before or after a flight.

There are several restaurants set amongst greenery so take your pick from a flame-grilled Spur burger, Panarotti’s pizza or a tasty club sandwich.

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4. Great coffee and shopping

Inside the airport you’ll find a large Woolworths with their latest clothing range and a wide selection of items for last-minute present buyers. The baristas at the coffee station know what they’re doing so order a coffee the way you like it and munch a pastry at the long wooden tables in the store set up for hungry patrons. There’s also a post office and pharmacy in the airport for your convenience.

5. Beautiful art

sculptor at King Shaka Airport Heritage market

Courtesy of King Shaka International Airport Facebook

Take note of the jewel-like mosaics that feature throughout the airport. The berg, beach, bush and battlefield themes speak of KZN’s intricately woven history. There’s art wherever you look, including the impressive Nguni cattle sculptures that guard the entrance to the airport.

6. Music

Local musicians busking at King Shaka Int

Courtesy of King Shaka International Airport Facebook

Play the piano at your disposal or listen to one of many talented buskers that perform at the airport on an official basis. This program has been collaboration between King Shaka International Airport and iSupport that identifies and supports local musical talent in KZN.

7. Saturday parking special

Often on Saturday mornings one of Durban’s finest markets takes up residence at the airport, shoppers only pay R10 parking for a whole morning.

8. Airport working dogs

buzz and Mac

Buzz and Mac KSIA working dogs courtesy of Adrian Naicker via Green Dogs Conservation

For your peace of mind there is a finely-tuned radar system (a world first for a commercial airport) and bird-detecting dogs (trained by Green Dogs conservation) keeping the runway safe and free from bird strikes (this also benefits the rare bird population in the Mount Moreland reedbed close by).

Friendly, inviting King Shaka International has so much to offer its international (and local) visitors:

#nofilter #KSIA #Avgeek Our beautiful Airside!

A photo posted by King Shaka Int’l Airport (@kingshaka_airport) on

#nofilter #ACSA #Avgeek #sardinemural #KSIA #Ilovedurban A photo posted by King Shaka Int’l Airport (@kingshaka_airport) on

#nofilter #kingshaka #airport #avgeek #ambience #ilovedurban Have you seen the surfboards in our Terminal?

A photo posted by King Shaka Int’l Airport (@kingshaka_airport) on

#grandpiano #avgeek #airport #ambience #ilovedurban A photo posted by King Shaka Int’l Airport (@kingshaka_airport) on

#mykingshakaairport #avgeek #travel

A photo posted by King Shaka Int’l Airport (@kingshaka_airport) on

#kingshakaint #KSIAselfie #airportselfie A photo posted by King Shaka Int’l Airport (@kingshaka_airport) on

Our Readers Comments

  1. Just such a pity there is no aircraft viewing deck.

  2. Proud of KSIA!! From the exceptional …Zulu Kingdom…gotta luv KZN

  3. Please are looking for good offer for umra and for Pakistan because I only can travel in December or and of November till january plz think about this I will be very grateful to you

    • Hi there,

      Thanks for contacting us.

      Flying over December and January is peak season and airlines do not have specials over this busy period.

      You welcome to search for flight prices on http://www.travelstart.co.za here you are able to view all the different
      airlines that operate a specific route to ensure that you choose the cheapest possible option.

  4. We are proud of our airport. However, bad planning has resulted in many travellers not enjoying the full benefit of this brilliant airport as the domestic arrivals area is situated too close the terminal exit.

  5. What about some carts to move the elderly around..like the ones in this dubai. .

  6. A beautifull airport with so much
    But international arriving is such a hassle and u are almost made to feel like a criminal. Takes so long to get through.

  7. Since KSIA is a newly built airport i was dissappointed that the planners could not offer its customers a viewing deck. Children and adults alike love to see planes land and take. Golf carts for elderly people should be introduced inside the building. I live 8km from the airport and cannot understand why an international airport cannot install street lighting from the Traffic Lights if using the road between Verulam and Tongaat (R101). At night its very dark driving around those bends.

    • Hi Morgan,

      Thanks for taking the time to send us your feedback.

      You have raised some very valid points. Thanks for sharing, much appreciated 🙂

  8. When are we going to have direct flights from Dbn to Australia and England

    • Hi Tish,

      Unfortunately no news of that one yet, fingers crossed direct flights will happen sooner rather than later.

  9. Wish there were travellators on arrival as it is such a long walk for “senior ” citizens, or alternatively carts to help those. You are offered this facility in Sydney, Australia so why not here?

    • Hi Olga,

      Thanks for the feedback. Yes a lot of people have given the exact same feedback.

      Hopefully they will look into this soonest.

  10. Not customer friendly. No viewing deck. Security harass passengers / people at passenger drop off point. No travelators ( moving stairs). This is serious, bad planning. Restaurants poorly located. Need to be within the hive area. Outside area on streets poorly signposted. Need more signs.

    • Hi there,

      Awesome, thanks for the feedback. And glad you enjoyed the blog. Always great knowing our readers enjoy what we put out there for them.

  11. I love the mosaics and the sculptured baobab tree… so well done!!
    I like the idea of the grand piano and will look out for it next time!
    Is another statue of the great King Shaka in its future or maybe a mosaic?
    Thank you for a great viewing experience and a taste of South African artistic talent!

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