The Ministry of Aviation and its agencies are putting in place robust measures to ensure the safe reopening of the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) to international passenger traffic by Tuesday, September 1, this year.
The preparations include the installation of seven temperature thermal scanners and 70 sample-taking booths, floor markings to ensure social distancing, counselling units and standby ambulances at Terminal Three of the airport. The new installations would ensure that passengers were tested for the disease and given the results within 15 minutes. He said all the arrangements had been done with huge passenger numbers in mind to prevent congestion during peak hours. Although the testing capacity was not disclosed, the officials said they would stagger airline arrival to reduce congestion and testing backlogs.
We are working hard; the Ghana Airport Company is working with the service providers who are going to help us with the testing and the implementation of the protocols. The Ghana Health Service (GHS) through the Port Health are also working with us; they are busy putting all the finishing touches together. We have done a good job, we may not be quite there but we are going to test the system to be sure it is right before we open,” he said during a tour with the media of some ongoing projects in the sector.
The protocols put in place are to ensure adequate physical distancing, the wearing of nose masks or coverings, enhanced sanitation and disinfection, health screening, contact tracing and the use of passenger health declaration forms.
The measures are in compliance with the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO’s) Take-Off guidance for safe operations amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
Meanwhile, the GHS last Friday (August 21, 2020) issued guidelines for the safe reopening of international travel in the country amidst the Covid-19 outbreak. The guidelines captured in a notice from GHS to the management of the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) requires the airport to ensure temperature monitoring continues at both arrival and departure terminals.
The management of Kotoka International Airport (KIA) is also to ensure compulsory mask wearing for all passengers (both arriving and departing) as well as staff.
In the notice, the service also indicated that it had observed overcrowding as one of the factors contributing to the spread of the virus, therefore it urged Ghana’s only international airport to ensure there is no congestion at all sections of the airport. GHS wants all departments of the airport (arrival, departure and environs) to enforce strict social distancing protocols. The Ghana Health Service further stated that KIA must ensure social distancing and compulsory mask-wearing at the car parks and in front of all terminals.
Airline operators last week requested the Ministry of Aviation to give them at least 14 days’ prior notice after government stakeholders in the aviation sector come to a firm conclusion as to the date for re-opening the air borders. The move, they explained, is to afford them enough time to configure their systems to allow for ticket sales and setting up routing schedules with neighbouring countries to optimise their operations which have gone down for the past five months.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced that, as of August 24, Rwanda and Kenya were the only African states in 100 per cent alignment with the ICAO Council’s Aviation Recovery Task Force (CART) recommendations.
Other African states, such as Ghana and Togo, were more than 90 per cent compliant, while The Gambia was about 81 per cent ready.