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Entebbe International Airport to open next month

 

The Entebbe International Airport will open to commercial passenger flights on October 1, the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA) has confirmed.

The country’s only international airport will however open in phases with the first phase running from October to December 2020 having 13 flights arriving on the first day.

These details are contained in a September 8 2020 letter to executives of Airlines that operate within the country,  introducing to them  a revised weekly flight schedule for the first phase of the reopening which runs for three months.

The letter is signed by Al-Hajj Eng Sooma Ayub, the UCAA director for Airports and Aviation security.

Among the airlines cleared to opreate is Uganda Airlines, Kenya Airways, Qatar Airways, Air Tanzania, Ethiopian Airways and Fly Dubai.

Others are RwandAir, Royal Dutch Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Emirates , Brussels Airlines and Tarco Aviation.

The Airport has been closed to traffic since March when the country instituted a total lockdown which barred international travel but has been receiving cargo, evacuation and repatriation flights.

The closure of the airport has hurt critical sectors like tourism which is the country’s highest foreign exchange earner raking in about $ 1.6 billion in 2018.

Following a directive from President Yoweri Museveni two weeks ago, the country’s COVID-19 National Task Force headed by the Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda last week proposed a range of recommendations to open up more sectors of the economy like tourism, education and worship places among which was the Airport.

Dr Monica Musenero, the senior presidential adviser on epidemics told  Karibu Travel Magazine last Thursday that the recommendations, which were sent to the president for approval, will follow standard operation procedures designed by each sector once they are endorsed.

“All sectors have for a long time worked with the ministry of health and the national taskforce to develop standard operating procedures for each of them like tourism, airport and cargo handling plus education,” she said.

The proposals, details of which are soon set to be announced by the president are targeted at opening up the economy further by October 1 2020.

After recording its first case earlier in March, Uganda went into a total lockdown banning public and private transport, closed schools and worship places, banned public gathering and closed off arcades and shopping malls.

Currently, even when the country seems to be in a more volatile situation with a total of 3,900 cases and 46 deaths by September 8 2020, authorities have started opening up different sectors of the economy.

Tourists and other travellers coming into the country through the airport will be required to provide a COVID-19 free certificate with validity of 72 hours, the task force has proposed.

Mr Vianney Luggya, the spokesperson of the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority said that gradually, Entebbe Airport has been preparing for re-opening by providing for space for social distancing at the terminal, departure and arrival lounges, protective gear, manual temperature guns and ultra-modern thermo scanners.

Since it closed to flights in March this year, the airport has been mainly handling flights with cargo, emergencies, evacuations, and repartitions during the lockdown using the new health facilities.

“We are ready to open anytime and we intend to continue to put in place new measures required by help authorities in liaison with other stakeholders,” Mr Luggya said.

Visitors arriving by road from different borders points will also be required to present a covid-19 certificate valid for 72 hours ours while categories of visitors like drivers and those deemed to be coming from high risk countries will be subjected to a COVI-19 test at their cost.

 

 

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Mr Jonathan Kamoga is a journalist currently working with The EastAfrican Newspaper. He has keen interest in regional Tourism, aviation and conservation.

kamogajonathan50@gmail.com

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