Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula.

Limited domestic air services will resume on Monday (June 1) from four airports as SA moves into level three lockdown.

Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula, addressed the media at a briefing on Saturday, May 30.

The resumption of domestic flights will be rolled out in three phases. In phase one, flights are permitted from Cape Town International Airport, King Shaka International Airport, OR Tambo International Airport and Lanseria Airport.

Phase two will see flights resume from Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport, Polokwane International Airport, and Bram Fischer Airport, and phase three from Kimberley Airport, Upington Airport, East London Airport, Umtata Airport, and Port Elizabeth Airport.

The phased approach will be guided by several considerations, the Minister said. “The initial period will serve as a trial period to stress test the system. Move to phase two is informed by the current low infection rates in the inland provinces. We will further engage with the industry stakeholders on the contributions that are necessary for port health capacity in the operations of Phases two and three of the roll-out.”

Air travel is permitted for business travel only – no recreational, leisure or tourism purposes, the Minister said. All international passenger flights are prohibited, with the exception of repatriation flights.

Safety guidelines

Passengers will be required to provide written authorisation or proof of travel, confirming the reason for travel.

Drop off and pick up is only permitted outside the terminal building. All passengers will be screened before entering the terminal building. They will also be required to wear face masks. Airports and airlines are also required to develop and implement procedures consistent with the applicable COVID-19 regulations and directions, the Minister said.

“Markings on the floor for social distancing of 1,5m will be applicable at check-in counters, security checkpoints and airport lounges. Check-in counters will also be frequently sanitised. Passengers are encouraged to use self-check-in to avoid queues at the airport,” he said.

At boarding gates, boarding will be staggered and prioritised in terms of the number of passengers.  Sectional boarding will be implemented to avoid unnecessary contact inside the aircraft. Aircraft will be allowed to operate at 100% load as the risk of COVID-19 infection on board an aircraft is lower than in many other confined spaces because commercial aircraft are fitted with high efficiency air filters that kill all airborne viruses onboard, the Minister said. “These are manufactured to the same standards as those in hospital theatres, with the same efficacy of removing 99,7% of viruses. The air supply in aircraft cabins is sterile,” he said.

There will be no catering on board, no magazines and the last row will be reserved for isolation of suspected cases.

On arrival, all passengers will, again, be screened as they enter the terminal building. Suspected cases will be referred to Port Health.