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Entebbe International Airport is Set to Reopen in October

Entebbe International Airport is Set to Reopen in October

After nearly six months of closure, the Government of Uganda is set to reopen the Entebbe International Airport in October 2020. The Uganda Civil Aviation Authority has published a schedule for each flight, however, the Ugandan COVID-19 task force recommends that the airport and schools be reopened on October 1st after a set of Standard Operating Procedures are put in place.

Following the President’s directive, the Entebbe International Airport has been closed since 23rd March 2020 as one of the measures to curb the spread of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

President Museveni met the COVID-19 National Task Force at State House on Tuesday where they presented a report on the re-opening of the entertainment industry and the airport. “We shall be opening the airport anytime now, but most likely at the beginning of October or around there.

It is a tentative schedule that is being discussed with Air operators for planning purposes. We still await Government’s official pronouncement of the exact date. The schedule can always be adjusted accordingly.

Previous meetings between President Museveni and the Entebbe Airport officials have pointed out the need for purchasing among other items; Temperature monitor guns, health scanning machines, and enforcement of personnel as well as disinfectants for aircraft and airport space.

Civil Aviation Authority also has recently defended the shs150 billion that its officials say is needed to allow Entebbe International Airport to sustain normal operations after being closed for over three months due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

CAA insists that the money will enable the sustainability of air transport operations for the next financial year but not a precondition for reopening the airport.

“We are mandated to regulate air transport in Uganda, manage and operate Entebbe International Airport and other aerodromes and we derive revenue for the day-to-day running of activities, including infrastructure upgrade from air traffic in and out of the country. Suspension of passenger operations in March 2020 negatively impacted this revenue, which is used to sustain operations at Entebbe International Airport,” the Civil Aviation Authority said in the statement.

President Museveni will make an address to the country this week to make certain pronouncements on the opening of the airport, gaming centres, betting companies, and churches.

About the Flights 

The Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA) in a September 8 letter to airlines’ executives said that 13 flights, to and from the airport have been cleared for the first day, while 10 flights are confirmed for the second day. The letter is signed by Sooma Ayub, the UCAA director for Airports and Aviation security.

Airlines expected to resume flights in Uganda include the national carrier Uganda Airlines, Kenya Airways, Qatar Airways, Air Tanzania, Ethiopian Airlines, FlyDubai, RwandAir, KLM, Turkish Airlines, Emirates, Brussels Airlines, and Tarco Aviation.

The UCAA says the reopening will see the number of flights handled at the airport increasing gradually. The regulator also gave details of a revised weekly flight schedule for the first phase of the reopening which runs for three months.

The UCAA had asked for $40 million to prepare the airport for reopening.

Entebbe International Airport was closed to passenger traffic since March except for evacuation and repatriation flights and cargo. The closure hit hard sectors like tourism which rely on aviation.

Guidelines Ahead of Reopening the Entebbe International Airport 

As part of the requirements, the airlines shall ensure that travellers arrive at the airport at least four hours to boarding in order to go through health and security screening requirements.
All persons entering the airport shall wear Ministry of Health approved face masks, go through thermo screening, hand wash and sanitize hands and body at different stages.
More so, every traveller will need a COVID-19 certificate issued within 10 days before travel, observe social distancing of 1.5m throughout depart facilitation chain to aircraft boarding, many of which have been marked and screened for COVID-19 symptoms like fever, dry cough, running nose, general weakness among others.
Rwanda and Kenya have already reopened their airports and the countries have emphasized the need by travellers to adhere to the health guidelines aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.
After President Museveni closed Entebbe International Airport to all commercial flights on March 22, 2020, he only allowed cargo and UN planes carrying humanitarian emergency in a bid to contain the spread of COVID-19.
The European Union (EU) recently urged Uganda to adopt the new coronavirus rapid tests technology as the government continues to work towards safe ways of re-opening Entebbe International Airport to travellers.

The EU head of the delegation, Attilio Pacifici, said the European ambassadors were pleased with the government process of working towards safely opening the airport amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, which he said was good for both Ugandans intending to travel abroad and Europeans who want to come to Uganda.

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