The Uganda Civil Aviation Authority is
still awaiting directives from the government on when commercial flights should
resume, as infrastructure upgrade continues at Entebbe International Airport, amidst measures to control the spread of coronavirus Disease.
Last week social media and a section of
mainstream media were awash with information that flights would resume on
October 1, 2020, six months since the airport was closed. From the time, more than 4,000 people have tested
positive for the virus in Uganda, with 48 deaths.
The reports were based on a letter dated September 8, written by the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA)
to airlines' executives. The letter signed by Ayub Sooma, the UCAA director for
Airports and Aviation security indicated that 13 flights, to and from the airport have been cleared for the first day, while 10 flights are confirmed for the second day.
UCAA also gave details of a revised weekly flight schedule for the first phase of the reopening which runs for three months. This draft plan with a tentative flight schedule was shared with executives of Uganda Airlines, KLM, Turkish Airlines, Emirates, Brussels Airlines, Qatar Airways, Kenya
Airways, Air Tanzania,
Ethiopian Airlines, FlyDubai, RwandAir, and Tarco Aviation.
However, the UCAA Manager of Public Affairs, Vianney Luggya told URN that this was not a final
schedule, but a draft sent to the operators, who were asked to give their input
for a final plan, as the industry awaits communication from the government on
when to re-open.
//Cue in; In one of ...
Cue out….that particular
Luggya says that currently, apart from continuing with the expansion and
upgrade of the airport facilities, they have been putting in place measures that
are aimed at preventing infections at the airport. These measures are expected to require
an intending traveller to be at the airport at least four hours before their
The measures include installing automated
sanitizer points, removing partitions in waiting areas and protective measures
at counters to separate officials and passengers at the airport.
//Cue in; One of them is…
Cue out…within its
UCAA is also drawing up possible plans on how it would be like
if commercial flights were given a go-ahead to commence. Luggya says that even on resumption,
not all the airlines that operate at or through Entebbe will be allowed
immediately, as the authority will have to gauge the environment before allowing in
Before the lockdown, UCAA was recording
revenues worth 20 billion shillings a month, but this has since dropped to 1
billion Shillings. However, the country is losing more through a crippled tourism sector, that largely relies on commercial flights bringing in foreign tourists.
In the interim, the airport is handling
cargo flights, emergency service flights for organisations like World Food
Program-WFP, as well as repatriation flights for foreigners wishing to go back to
their countries, and Ugandan’s returning to their country.