South Africa: Minister Fikile Mbalula - COVID-19 Level 3 Measures for OR Tambo International Airport

press release

Speaking notes for the Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula on the occasion of his inspection of O.R. Tambo International Airport on Wednesday 3 June 2020

Thank you all for coming and for following the rules and protocols as directed.

We are here today to inspect adherence to a set of measures put in place by the department to protect the health of all those who work at this airport and those who will be using it to fly to their different destinations. As you have seen, we have done these inspections on trains, particularly Gautrain, taxis and buses over the last few weeks. This has been widely reported and we have regularly updated the public via our media platforms. Today's inspection is not any different from the ones we have previously undertaken. The resumption of flight operations will also happen under strict conditions on Level 3 as announced.

The Regulated Directives are as follows:

Limited domestic air travel for business purposes will be allowed, subject to restrictions on the number of flights per day and authorization based on the reason for travel. The resumption of domestic flights will be rolled out in three phases.

Commercial aircraft movement will be allowed from these airports during each phase:

Phase 1

OR Tambo International Airport

Cape Town International Airport

King Shaka International Airport, and

Lanseria International Airport

Phase 2

Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport

Polokwane International Airport

Bram Fischer Airport

Phase 3

Kimberley Airport

Upington Airport

ast London Airport

Umtata Airport

Port Elizabeth Airport

Airports and the Airlines must demonstrate that they can effectively implement these regulations and directives. In this regards, we have regulated the following:

Airports & Aircraft

Limited domestic air travel also means that flights will only be allowed to depart and land at selected airports in a phased manner as earlier explained. Only passengers will be allowed inside the terminal buildings. Therefore, no accompanying members of the public will be allowed inside the terminal buildings.

Temperature screening will be conducted at the terminal building entrances, before any passenger is allowed entry. No passengers will be allowed inside the terminal buildings without masks. ACSA will ensure effectiveness of the sanitization process before entering the terminal buildings, which may result in the number of entrances being reduced.

All the airports will have markings on the floor for social distancing of 1.5 metres. This will be applicable at check-in counters, security checkpoints and airport lounges. All airline check-in agents will wear face shields and the counters will be installed with protective screens. Check-in counters will also be frequently sanitized.

All airport personnel will wear masks. Passengers are encouraged to use self-check-in to avoid queues at the airport. At boarding gates, boarding will be staggered and prioritized in terms of the number of passengers to board. Sectional boarding will be implemented to avoid unnecessary contact inside the aircraft. Inside the cabin, full capacity will be allowed. It must be noted that the risk of COVID-19 infection on board a commercial passenger airliner is lower than in many other confined spaces.

All our commercial aircrafts are fitted with the High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters. These are manufactured to the same standard as those used in hospital operating theatres and industrial clean rooms, with the same efficacy of 99.97% in removing viruses.

While the total air supply inside the cabin is essentially sterile and particle free, the biggest risk is if someone enters or remains in that environment, while unwell with a viral infection. This risk will be mitigated through the adoption of effective sanitization and personal hygiene protocols.

The following measures will apply inside the cabin of the aircraft:

no catering will be allowed;

no magazines on board;

The last row will be reserved for isolation of suspected cases.

All aircrafts must be disinfected before entering into service and after each flight;

Loading capacity for all airport buses must be limited to 70%. These buses must be disinfected after off-loading. Drivers, baggage handlers and ground handlers must be fully equipped with appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). On arrival, all passengers must be screened as they enter the terminal building. Suspected cases must be referred to Port Health. On our inspection today, we observed a set of rules emanating from the regulated directives.

Upon Arriving at the airport:

Passengers must use drop-and-go facilities or public transport as only passengers will be allowed into the terminal

Limited parkade options will be available. These are signposted at each airport.

Meeters and greeters will not be allowed in the terminal building.

Baggage wrapping is now compulsory for all check-in luggage for hygiene reasons.

Airport entrances and access control

A number of access points have been closed at each airport. Please visit the Airports Company website for details on which access points and terminal entrance points should be used.

Access to terminal buildings will therefore be restricted

Physical distancing rules will apply at the terminal entrance.

Masks are compulsory from entry to the airport all the way through a flight and out of the destination airport

Port Health will conduct screening checks at entrances.

Passengers must produce their business travel permission letters at the entrance.

It is the passenger's responsibility to ensure that they have the necessary permission letter before they book a flight.

Check-in process

Passengers should check in online before going to the airport.

Online check in can be done at the screens in the terminal building.

A limited number of check-in counters will be open and physical distancing rules will apply in these queues.

Using a check-in counter will take longer.

Security checkpoint process

Passengers will scan their own paper-based or mobile device-based boarding pass to the scanner at the security checkpoint.

Passengers should remove any metal and electronic items from their person before entering the security queue. This includes mobile devices, watches, jewellery, wallets, keys and so on

These items must be placed in the tray at the security scanner.

This process will minimise the need for security officers to conduct physical pat downs at the checkpoint.

Boarding the aircraft

Physical distancing rules apply for queues to board an aircraft.

Passengers must scan their own boarding pass at the boarding gate.

Boarding will be done in a controlled manner with passengers travelling in the rear seats of the aircraft boarding first. Passengers with tickets for Row A, for example, will board last.

Masks must be worn for the duration of the flight.

Disembarking from an aircraft

Masks must continue to be used when disembarking and moving towards the baggage carousels.

Physical distancing rules will apply at the baggage carousels.

Crowding close to the baggage carousels will not be permitted.

In terms of the Regulations, the SACAA monitors the implementation of these regulations and directions we published. The South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) has confirmed the following:

That an inspection was conducted based on the regulated directives at the ORTIA. In terms of the directives, the airports must submit procedures to the SACAA for approval, and these were subsequently approved by the SACAA.

The inspection encompassed the following areas:

The availability of and proper usage of the PPE for passengers and for the Crew before entering the airport terminal

Various layers of Airport Exit Screening-Ports Health, Check-In Counter, as well as the Boarding Gates

How the airport maintains the social distancing at various highly populated areas; such as Check- in, Security and Boarding

Witnessing the disinfections of the Terminal building and highly populated areas

Security & Baggage Handling, Bus/Ramp Infection Control measures

Management of aircraft inbound and outbound suspected cases

Ports Health Public Health Plan including isolation room/area/ designated ambulance and referral hospital of suspected case for both departure and incoming passengers

Ramp Inspection of the airline in line with the airline guidelines

Over and above the approval of the ORTIA procedures, the SACAA approved the procedures for Cape Town International and is currently reviewing the procedures for King Shaka International. In terms of the readiness of the airlines, I would like to state that the airlines, including charters have also submitted their procedures which are being reviewed by the SACAA.

These regulations and directives are there for the protection of all people and we expect absolute compliance. 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.

I am satisfied that the airport has started out well and we expect this to continue. Now that we have started with opening up aviation, we must look ahead with determination in order for the transport sector to perform its vital economic role.

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