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CTIA provides assurances after global high-risk alert

Authorities have moved quickly to reassure business travellers that Cape Town International Airport (CTIA) is safe after Western Cape airports were listed as high risk for COVID-19 transmission by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). The Western Cape has the most recorded COVID-19 cases in South Africa, mostly concentrated in Cape Town.

After visiting CTIA last week to assess its bio-security measures, Western Cape Finance and Economic Opportunities MEC, David Maynier, and Cape Town’s Mayoral Committee Member for Economic Opportunities and Asset Management, James Vos, said they were impressed with the airport’s readiness, and confidently declared it was ready to welcome visitors.

Enhanced cleaning and disinfection are advised at EASA-flagged airports to protect passengers and crew. No other airports in South Africa are on the list, which, however, includes airports in 36 countries, including high-profile ones such as Heathrow, Gatwick, Schiphol, Madrid, Stockholm, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Singapore. Egypt is the only other African country listed.

EASA says the list was compiled from data obtained from the World Health Organization and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Listings are based, among other criteria, on the number of active COVID cases in a region, the number of recoveries, tests, deaths, transmission trends and size of airports serving the area.

CTIA gm, Deon Cloete, confirms that the airport is safe for use and can support the industry in building passenger confidence.

CTIA is expected to see 90 aircraft movements a day as FlySafair and Mango join Airlink in starting scheduled domestic services on the Golden Triangle between Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban.

Flights will operate from 06h00 to 18h00. (Aircraft movements also include cargo flights, repatriation charters and general aviation.)

CTIA has said the new bio-security protocols will result in longer processing time of flights: up to 45 minutes for domestic flights, while flight turnarounds will take 30 minutes longer, lasting up to 60 minutes. The new requirements of 1.5m social distancing will reduce the capacity of CTIA’s domestic arrivals terminal from 1 800 passengers per hour to 1 100 passengers per hour.

All procedures will be fine-tuned as lessons are learned and new technology becomes available, according to CTIA gm Deon Cloete. Future innovations being considered include sniffer dogs that can detect asymptomatic COVID carriers; and ‘smart helmets’ equipped with thermal cameras to detect people’s body temperatures.

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