Limited local flights for business travelers will be allowed back on Monday, Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula told a media conference in Pretoria on Saturday afternoon.
The resumption of domestic flights will take place in three phases, Mbalula said, when he announced the transport guidelines during Level 3 of the national state of restriction.
The local flights will depend on the readiness of the health systems at the three largest airports in the country – OR Tambo (Johannesburg), Cape Town and King Shaka (Durban).
“However, this does not mean that all flights will take place from Monday,” Mbalula said.
Lanseria Airport outside Johannesburg requires prior authorization for each flight.
Only a limited number of flights per day will be allowed and passengers will have to prove that they are flying for business reasons.
Consent for other passengers will be considered on merit. These include people who have to travel for medical treatment “or to look after a sick close relative”.
Travelers are advised to return to the airport from where they left on the same day.
The other airports will open in other stages.
Mbalula says stringent measures will apply at the airports. Passengers will have to go through a screening process and everyone (including airport staff) will have to wear face masks.
Only passengers will be allowed at the airports. They are asked to use the system that allows them to book themselves. It will help that there is no congestion of passengers.
When passengers board, they will climb into smaller groups on the plane. The buses that carry people to aircraft may not be more than 70% full to limit contact between passengers.
Also, no food or drink will be allowed in the aircraft.
There will also be no magazines on the plane and the last row at the back of the plane will be kept open as an “isolation queue” for passengers showing symptoms of the virus on the flight.
The aircraft must be disinfected before and after each flight.
“Apart from passengers and airport staff, no one will be allowed into the airport building.
“You may drop or pick someone up at the airport and leave immediately,” Mbalula said.
He says the aircraft may carry the usual number of passengers.
“Aircraft have already been proven to be at low risk of spreading the virus. An airplane is not a taxi, and these measures do not apply to taxis, ”the minister said.
In the second phase of the opening of domestic flights, flights from Kruger Mpumalanga Airport will be reopened near the southern parts of the Kruger National Park, Polokwane Airport in Polokwane and Bram Fischer Airport in Bloemfontein.
In the third phase, Kimberley, Upington, East London, Umtata and Port Elizabeth airports will be opened, the minister said.
Smaller airports such as those at George and Hoedspruit will only reopen at level 1.
The Gautrain will also return to OR Tambo Airport from Monday.
Mbalula says the challenge with transporting people at level 3 of the restriction is to strike a balance between mobility and prevent the Covid-19 virus from spreading further.
“The right to live is non-negotiable and applies above all other regulations. It says so in the Constitution, “Mbalula says.