Domestic flights resume in Joburg - passengers should arrive two hours before departure

05 June 2020 - 17:38
By Ernest Mabuza
OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg.
Image: AFP PHOTO OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg.

The first domestic commercial flight from OR Tambo International Airport under level 3 of the lockdown took off on Friday after 10 weeks of no commercial flights.

A total of 57 business travellers began checking in at the airport from 4am for the flight on a CemAir Dash 8-Q400 that departed at 6.30am for Cape Town. The load factor on this flight was 73%.

A few hours later at 11.50am, the airport received the first arrival of a domestic commercial flight with a CemAir flight bringing 66 passengers to Gauteng — a load factor of 83%.

A second CemAir flight from OR Tambo International Airport to Cape Town departed at 3pm and another flight was scheduled to arrive at 8.15pm.

Limited domestic air travel for business will be allowed under level 3, subject to restrictions on the number of flights per day and authorisation based on the reason for travel.

GM of OR Tambo International Airport Bongiwe Pityi-Vokwana said the extensive health and safety measures implemented at the airport had worked as intended.

“The first domestic commercial flight under level 3 is a significant step forward in demonstrating to the public this airport’s readiness and ability to apply the regulations under operational conditions.

“We encourage passengers to arrive at the airport two hours prior to departure to allow the necessary health and safety measures such as screening to be carried out diligently,” Pityi-Vokwana said.

She said airport management would seek feedback from front-line employees and passengers to identify areas where safety and passenger experience could be  enhanced.

One area already identified was some passengers assuming their normal routes into the airport would be open. Terminal access for arrivals and departures is now only through the parkade and no longer from the roadway. Passengers must look for signs for Parkade 2 South.

CemAir CEO Miles van der Molen said the airline was active in repatriation flights during the travel lockdown.

He said it was particularly pleasing to once again be able to offer scheduled domestic flights. “We are now looking forward to our first flights between Durban and OR Tambo International from Monday.”

Van der Molen said the airline believed that passengers would gradually become accustomed to the new regulations such as wearing masks during a flight and not receiving in-cabin service.

“Flying under these conditions is going to be challenging for the entire aviation sector, but it’s vital that we get passengers back in the air,” said Van der Molen.