On 1st October, Entebbe International Airport which had been closed to the country for passenger flights since 23rd March 2020 as way of combating the spread of coronavirus disease, COVID-19 was tentatively opened up for commercial flights. During the time, only emergency flights comprising of mainly returning nationals and cargo were allowed to land at the airport.
Therefore, Uganda joined her East African counterparts who had already opened their airports. Last month, Kenya and Rwanda lifted a ban on international flights joining Tanzania and Ethiopia.
According to new guidelines issued by the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority, each airline, apart from Uganda Airlines will operate only one flight daily in the first phase of the reopening, covering the months of October to December 2020. The national airline will operate two flights a day to Nairobi, four times to Juba and Dar-es-salaam and thrice to Mogadishu.
Turkish Airlines was the first commercial flight at the airport after the reopening, it arrived at 3 am. It is said that 16 air operator will operate scheduled passenger flights via Entebbe. KLM will start on Saturday October 3 operating four flights a week and Egypt air will operate its first flight on October 9.
Roger Wamara, Uganda Airline’s commercial director said that the airline increased the cost of its commercial flight air tickets by an average of 3 per cent to cater for additional costs such as personal protective equipment among others to combat the spread of COVID-19. He adds that the Mogadishu and Juba routes have so far attracted over 50 passengers per flight while Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam are expected to pick up in the coming months.
There was visible heavy deployment at the airport as commercial flights resumed yesterday. There were eight police officers deployed at the main entrance to ensure that passengers who disembark from the vehicles have their body temperatures measured and sanitize their hands before they can proceed to the airport.
Police officers were also deployed around the parking areas, arrivals and departure sections, and waiting areas inside and outside the passenger terminal. Some security operatives were in plain clothes and airport security officers were enforcing the anti-COVID-19 measures inside the passenger terminal. For instance, people were expected wear a face mask and also observe social distancing. Social distancing marks were placed on most public spaces, such as the waiting lounges, check-in areas among others.
Much as many people are still hesitant to travel due to COVID-19 concerns, there has been a relaxation on quarantine in Uganda, so long as you prove your results that were taken not more than 72 hours, you are a free traveler and with the Safety Operating Procedures put in place, am sure we can travel amidst this pandemic.
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