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Longest runway in the Southern Hemisphere

Upington International Airport in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa is situated just 6 km outside the town of  Upington.

The airport has three runaways of which one measures 4 900 metres, one of the longest in the world and certainly the longest in the Southern Hemisphere. The length of this runway is long enough to land a space shuttle and for this reason, both the South African Airforce and South African Airways train their pilots here in handling larger aircraft such as 747’s and 707’s.

Upington is smaller than most airports in the country and it currently operates domestic only routes in South Africa with only one airline servicing the area.

The airport plays its part in cargo distribution by sending cars, livestock and mining equipment to other African countries, the Middle East and Europe. Upington International alone sends over one million tons of grapes to other parts of the world each year.

Airport Facilities

  • Basic First Aid Available
  • Prayer rooms on request
  • Runways can be viewed from the terminal building


Upington experiences a climate of most desert or semi-desert areas with extremely high temperatures in summer and some rainfall occurring in October and March.

Summer months, November to March will have average temperatures of between 16˚C and 40˚C.

Winter months, May to August will have average temperatures of between -2˚C and 21˚C.


Transportation to and from the airport would be via hired cars or taxis. The airport has 59 parking bays, all free of charge.


In 2013 Upington International Airport was voted the Best Small Airport in Africa at the ASQ Awards.


Formally known as Pierre Ryneveld Airport, it officially opened its’ doors in the early 1900’s with a cross, grass runway. Its history is linked to politics because after Angola became independent to Portugal, South Africa lost its rights to land in Luanda and due to the restrictions regarding flying over other African States, South Africa were concerned that they would lose their landing rights in the Ivory Coast and Cape Verde as well. For this reason, Upington Airports’ runway was built to accommodate a Boeing 747 with full cargo, passengers and fuel so it could travel to Europe without having to stop.

In 1968 the airport was revamped and named Upington Airport with a double story building and viewing deck.

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