Under lockdown level 3, travelling between borders has proved difficult, with essential services and extreme circumstances being the only true exceptions. That will change soon, however, as Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula yesterday confirmed a number of changes for those wanting to travel by air.

More specifically, along with O.R Tambo, Lanseria, Cape Town and King Shaka airports which have been operating in limited capacity to date, seven more airports will be able to re-open as of 1st July.

The seven airports in question are:

  • Bram Fischer International Airport
  • Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport
  • Pietermaritzburg Airport
  • Port Elizabeth International Airport
  • Richards Bay Airport
  • Skukuza Airport
  • Upington International Airport.

While this does mean greater flexibility for those wanting to travel, the minister has reiterated that the correct measures must in place by airport operators, as well as adhered to by those travelling.

“As more airports are opened, this will naturally increase the number of passengers at airports and therefore measures have been put in place to ensure that passengers are prepared for their experience at the airports to avoid congestion, mainly at security check points,” said Mbalula.

There are also a few other elements that airport operators and travellers will need to take note of, with South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) having received 117 standard operating procedures (SOPs) from industry and more than 87 have being approved.

As such, as has been the case with other decisions taken during lockdown level 3, there is still some clarity on the correct procedures that needs to be confirmed by the department of transport.

For now though, the department has unpacked certain aspects, such as travelling with hand sanitiser, which has not allowed under civil aviation rules previously.

Now, however, travellers will be allowed to travel with small quantities, although the precise amount is unknown. While we await further information on that front, it would seem that anything under the 100ml mark should be fine, but again we need confirmation first.

Another aspect is food and catering while onboard a flight, with it not possible previously, but now the department will be allowing pre-packed meals to be served or purchased by passengers.

Whether South Africans will be flocking to airports to travel outside of a dire need to do so, remains to be seen, but either way, it looks like the department of transport is learning throughout this process, as are most areas of government.

“Like any other area, we are making continuous improvement in areas where we observed challenges, in consultation with the Department of Health representatives, specifically Port Health,” concluded the minister.

[Image – Photo by Krzysztof Kowalik on Unsplash]