Ahead of domestic flight resumption on Wednesday, some African Civil Aviation Authorities say like Nigeria, they are opening up their domestic operations with the compliance of airports, airlines, and other stakeholders to COVID-19 protocols.
Speaking at a virtual meeting of the Aviation Leadership CEO’s Forum with the theme, COVID-19: Civil Aviation Regulation in Africa, Directors-General, Civil Aviation Authorities of Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, and South Africa said they were ready to restart the industry and ensure air travelers’ safety and consolidate the plans in place.
The global nature of the aviation industry requires compliance with standards and recommended practices for the safety and security of the industry.
It is against this background, that standards for health safety with respect to COVID-19 protocols have been recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO), that all stakeholders must comply with to stop the spread of the virus through air transportation.
Some African countries have put in place these health protocols to again begin activities in the skies.
Director-General, Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, Captain Musa Nuhu said the process for restart in the country this week had been rigorous for stakeholders.
“We do not have enough inspectors, we neither have enough resources to open the whole system and if we do it is going to be absolute chaos.”
The gradual restart of airports is not peculiar to Nigeria, Director-General, South African Civil Aviation Authority, Mrs. Poppy Khosa says this is the best way of reopening to avoid problems.
“Gradually we started very slow and with all airport operators and we have about 6 airlines that are operating already, we strategise together.”
According to the Director-General, Ghana Civil Aviation Authority, Mr Samuel Allotey, his country which had resumed domestic operations for two months has not had any issues with the COVID-19 protocols put in place.
Mr Allotey represented by the Director, Safety Regulations, Mr Daniel Acquah, said plans were on to restart international flights with the success achieved so far in domestic operations.
“The rapid diagnosis test RDT and this test takes about 15 minutes so we are virtually considering and I believe very soon Ghana maybe able to conclude those protocols, then the government will make an informed decision maybe to open the airport for international flights.”
On ensuring physical distancing inside the aircraft, Mrs Poppy Khosa said airlines in South Africa had been directed not to sell the last roll seats in the aircraft to isolate persons with signs of the virus.
But for DG Kenyan Civil Aviation Authority, Captain Gilbert Kibe, physical distancing was not necessary inside the aircraft.
“In as much as airlines maybe selling tickets but they can’t sell the last roll in the aircraft, they will leave it open for them to be able to do isolation in an event there is a passenger of any type of illness or symptoms.”
“Being inside the aircraft itself is a more safer environment than the airport and therefore you don’t need that social distancing.
The heads of civil aviation authorities in Africa say whatever measures and protocols put in place in line with health authorities and aviation bodies would be considered successful if passengers and stakeholders in the industry play their part.