Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula held a virtual media briefing on Monday morning giving a detailed update on the current operations in the aviation industry during Level 3 lockdown.
There has been limited domestic air travel allowed since the 1 June, with restrictions and safety regulations put in place to mitigate the spread of Covid-19. The only airports operating in phase 1 were OR Tambo International Airport, Cape Town International Airport, and King Shaka.
The minister was pleased with the compliance by these airports and has decided to reopen more airports in phase 2.
He said the more airports that open the more safety requirements would need to be met, such as no catering on board.
These are the relaxed air travel regulations:
- All international flights for repatriation.
- Medical emergency international travel will be allowed so that citizens will be allowed to receive treatment back home.
- The following domestics airports will reopen; Bram Fischer International Airport, Kruger Mpumalanga Airport, Pietermaritzburg Airport, Port Elizabeth Airport, Richards Bay airport, Upington International Airport and Skukuza Airport from the 1 July.
- Agriculture spraying, aerial advertisement, towing, search and rescue will be allowed.
- Approved regional re-positioning flights for all South African and foreign-registered aircraft into and from South Africa for return after maintenance and repair, to perform maintenance and repair.
Mbalulu said East London and George airport facilities were not ready to reopen during phase 2 because they did not meet the safety requirements.
He added that 100% capacity seating in airlines was because they are fitted with air filters that absorbed any type of virus, whereas taxis do not have this.
The minister has discouraged any type of travel other than for business purposes.
“The dark days are still coming, it’s going to depend on us to weather the storm, the virus is coming closer to home. South Africa’s numbers are growing exponentially,” he said.
Despite the media briefing being about the aviation industry, the minister was bombarded on the taxi shutdown and how he was going to respond to taxi operators operating 100%.
Mbalula said the taxi industry was the backbone of the transport industry, the government is still in discussions so that they will reach an amicable agreement, he further states the actions by the taxi operators to shutdown is not necessary as all industries have been affected by Covid-19 lockdown.