People wishing to make use of the limited domestic air services being reintroduced under the new, less-restrictive, Level 3 category of the current anti-Covid-19 national lockdown, must have a business travel permission letter. It was the responsibility of passengers to make certain that they had obtained such letters before they booked their flights. These letters must be presented at the entrances to airport terminals.
This was one of the points made by Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula in a statement to the media at OR Tambo International Airport (east of Johannesburg) on June 3. He was undertaking an inspection visit of the airport.
The Minister reaffirmed that the reinstatement of domestic air services would be in phases. Phase 1, now under way, involved the reopening of OR Tambo International Airport, Lanseria International Airport (northwest of Johannesburg), Cape Town International Airport and Durban’s King Shaka International Airport.
Phase 2 would see the reopening of Nelspruit’s Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport, Polokwane International Airport, and Bloemfontein’s Bram Fischer International Airport. Under Phase 3, East London, Kimberley, Port Elizabeth, Umtata and Upington Airports would be brought back into operation. “Airports and the Airlines must demonstrate that they can effectively implement these regulations and directives,” affirmed Mbalula.
The regulations and directives that he referred to are numerous. For airports, they include – only passengers will be allowed inside terminal buildings; temperature screening of passengers will be carried out before they are allowed to enter the terminal, and will again take place after they disembark from the aircraft at their destinations; all airports will have floor markings to facilitate social or physical distancing at check-in, security and airport lounges; all airport personnel and passengers must wear masks, and check-in staff will wear face shields; and counters will be frequently sanitised.
Regarding the boarding of aircraft, this would be done in a staggered manner. Passengers with seats at the rear of the cabin would board first, those with seats at the front of the cabin would board last. Passengers in queues must maintain physical distancing. Airport buses may only be loaded to 70% capacity and they must be disinfected after their passengers disembark.
Because of the great effectiveness of the high efficiency particulate air filters used in the air circulation systems of modern airliners, there were no restrictions on the number of seats that could be filled, except that the last row in each aircraft would be reserved for the isolation of any passengers suspected of being infected. But no onboard catering would be permitted, nor would onboard magazines be allowed. Masks must be worn throughout the flight. The aircraft themselves must be disinfected before re-entering service and after every flight.
“These regulations and directives are there for the protection of all people and we expect absolute compliance,” pointed out Mbalula. “We understand the need to gradually open the economy, and we are balancing it with safety and good health. I am confident that our airports will play a central role in reigniting the economy, reconnecting our economic hubs while strictly operating under these conditions.”