South Africa's newly built King Shaka International Airport is geared to receive its first traffic before the start of the FIFA World Cup, officials said on Thursday.

The airport which is being built in La Mercy, north of Durban will open on May 1, replacing the existing smaller facility, south of the city.

Officials told journalists that it was ready to start operating, with all the construction almost done.

"About 99 percent of the construction is complete. A bit of work still needs to be done on paved areas. None of of it has an impact on travellers," said Sean Van Der Valk, construction projects leader.

The airport has a 3,7 kilometre (2.3 mile) runway and will accommodate large aircrafts, including the Airbus A380.

It took three years to complete.