Figures reveal how air travel in SA nosedived during Covid-19 lockdown

02 October 2020 - 13:24
By Iavan Pijoos
Transport minister Fikile Mbalula said on Friday morning that during level 4 lockdown a total of 19,206 passengers landed at the country's airports.
Image: Fikile Mbalula via Twitter Transport minister Fikile Mbalula said on Friday morning that during level 4 lockdown a total of 19,206 passengers landed at the country's airports.

Passengers flying and using SA's airports dropped from millions in the past five years to a few hundred thousand during lockdown, the transport department said on Friday morning.

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula said on Friday morning that during lockdown level 4 a total of 19,206 passengers landed at the country's airports.

Most of the flights were for essential services, locals and the repatriation and evacuation of foreign nationals.

Mbalula said when limited domestic air travel resumed in June during level 3, the number went up to more than 300,000 at approved airports.

Mbalula said statistics showed that in the past five years the average number of passengers travelling between the country's airports amounted to 1.8 million per month, with the highest recorded figures indicating that more than 2 million passengers per month landed at various airports during peak festive seasons.

“This figures are not meant to shock you, but are merely a demonstration of the impact of Covid-19 on the civil aviation industry and businesses,” he said.

International passenger flights inbound to SA from African and other countries was opened from October 1.

Mbalula outlined the following guidelines for airline travelling: 

  • foreign airline is required to submit procedures of level of compliance from SA Covid-19 regulations;
  • foreign air ambulance services are permitted to transport Covid-19 positive patients, provided they obtain approval from the department of health, transport and comply with all health protocols;
  • passengers and crews are required to use face masks at all times, must observe social distancing, hand washing and sanitise regularly;
  • a child under the age of two may be exempted from wearing a face mask;
  • a passenger who is unable to wear a face mask due to an underlying medical condition must submit a medical certificate from a registered medical practitioner;
  • international travel from countries listed as having a high Covid-19 infection and transmission rate is prohibited, except for business travel, which may be allowed with the approval of the cabinet member responsible for home affairs; and
  • crew members shall upon arrival in SA be subjected to all health protocols.

Mbalula said international charter flights are allowed at OR Tambo International Airport, King Shaka International Airport and Cape Town International Airport.

He said charter operators conducting cargo operations from outside the country are permitted to operate at:

  • Bram Fischer International Airport;
  • Cape Town International Airport;
  • King Shaka International Airport;
  • Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport;
  • Lanseria International Airport;
  • OR Tambo International Airport;
  • Polokwane Airport;
  • Port Elizabeth International Airport; and
  • Upington International Airport.

All commercial seaports are also now operational.

TimesLIVE