Entebbe prepares for resumption of passenger services
Uganda Civil Aviation Authority UCAA, the operator of Entebbe International Airport, has put in place additional facilities for passenger screening, part of a ramp-up to a possible resumption of regular passenger services starting June 26.
Three large capacity tents donated by the World Food Program are being kitted out to facilitate the screening of arriving passengers for Covid-19, before they proceed to the immigration area. The pre-arrival screening facilities will deflect the congestion in the arrival hall and result in faster handling of arrivals, says Engineer Ayub Sooma, UCAA’s Director for Airports and Aviation Security.
“We are ensuring that the airport is ready for future resumption of flights and facilitating the repatriation of Ugandans that are currently stranded abroad,” he said during an inspection of the facilities by a multi-stakeholder team on June 4.
The additional facilities are part of the mitigation measures the airport is implementing to preclude the possibility of the airport becoming a source of Covid-19 spread. Others are the installation of glass barriers at the immigration and check-in counters as well as at the immigration booths. More automatic non-contact doors will also be installed across the airport as will be non-contact taps in the washrooms.
Airlines will be required to disembark passengers in batches of 50 to create a smooth flow through the screening area that will be equipped with remote temperature readers.
The arrival tents have been divided into three sections – one for non-contact capturing the temperatures of arriving passengers, another for taking samples for Covid-19 screenings and another facility for holding those that might require transfer to medical facilities. All passengers will be required go through a 14 day quarantine period either at an hotel at their own cost or free of cost at facilities provided by the government.
Some 2400 Ugandans have registered for repatriation and the initial repatriation flight had been scheduled for June 6. However, Sooma said the office of the Prime Minister has told the operator that repatriations will only start when the airport is ready to handle the numbers.
Both arriving and departing passengers will be expected to carry health certificates, wear face masks and practice social distancing throughout the airport. Departing passengers will also be required to arrive at the airport fours to to departure, an hour longer, to accommodate the more elaborate boarding process. The changes bring Entebbe to speed with new guidelines issued by the International Civil Aviation Organisation-ICAO, Airports Council International and the World Health Organization to guide countries on the steps they need to take as they prepare borders to international travel.
Automatic passport readers have been installed in the arrival hall. These will be used by returning citizens to avoid queuing at immigration counters while e-boarding pass readers will be deployed at boarding gates.
UCAA has already issued an international aeronautical bulletin indicating the opening of the airport from June 26, but the actual date for resumption of passengers flights is subject to guidance from the government.