CIVIL Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (Caaz) director of airports Tawanda Guzha yesterday said the country’s resumption of international flights has started on a positive note, with five airlines resuming operations within the first two weeks of reopening the aviation industry.
This comes as the government allowed domestic and international flights to resume on September 10 and October 1 respectively, in a bid to boost the country’s tourism sector which is expected to contract by 7,4 percent owing to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
Speaking during the tour of the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport yesterday conducted by Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa and Caaz authorities to assess adherence to Covid-19 regulations, Guzha indicated that the five airlines were carrying passengers almost at full capacity.
“From the first of October, what we experienced initially was a 30 percent load factor on the airlines that have come 2back to operate.
“So far, we have Emirates Airlines, Ethiopian Airways has continued on daily flights, we have Kenyan Airways operating three times a week, Rwanda Air which is operating four times a week, South African Airlink and Fast Jet.
“So… the numbers have been encouraging, especially when you look at the Harare and Johannesburg route. Fast Jet has been having almost full loads on a daily basis with their twice a day flights,” Guzha said.
He added that the aviation authorities had upgraded their passenger systems in a bid to curb the spread of Covid-19, which has infected over 8 000 people in the country.
“Starting from the departure side we have a disinfecting booth at the entrance of the terminal building and also where we are restricting entrance to bona fide travellers and staff.
“We also have the disinfection of luggage that takes place as people are coming in and then at the check-in point, we have physical distancing signage on the floor to promote social distancing.
“We have also installed shields at the checkpoint counters to protect the staff from the spread of Covid-19.
“We have also installed sanitising stations throughout the building so that at any given time the public does not have to look for sanitisers,” Guzha said.
“In the sitting area, we have also installed signage to promote physical distancing on the seats themselves within the terminal building.
“On the arrivals side, we have port health right in the bridges waiting to collect passenger information and also to check the Covid-19-free certificates that the passengers will be presenting.
“We also have disinfection booths before people enter into the immigration hall. The other interesting area is that there are also three Covid-19 testing facilities within the baggage area of the arrivals’ hall.
“We have replicated that in our three main airports that are the RGM International Airport, Joshua Nkomo International Airport and Victoria Falls International Airport.
“We also have a Covid-19 support area where if there is a suspected case they are taken to that area,” he added.
Mutsvangwa commended the airport officials for setting up mechanisms to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
“We are very grateful for the tour because it has given us the confidence that as we speak to the public, especially those who want to travel outside the country, that your health is the number one priority and that the airport has put all necessary measures to contain the spread of the disease
“We are also happy that those who come into the country without the Covid-19-free certificate have an opportunity of being tested right here at the airport and that process has been reduced to just two-and-a-half hours,” Mutsvangwa said.