Airports Company South Africa announced that terminal buildings at three international airports are now open to members of the public since Monday, 7 December 2020.
Covid-19 protocols have until now required that only passengers in possession of a ticket be given access terminal buildings. The Department of Transport notified Airports Company South Africa on Thursday 3 December that regulations had been revised to allow for general access to airport terminals.
Fundi Sithebe, Chief Operating Officer of Airports Company South Africa, says the move to open terminal buildings is part of a process of gradual easing of restrictions that the company has followed since domestic flying re-started in June.
Airports that have already opened terminal buildings for members of the public are O. R. Tambo International Airport, Cape Town International Airport and King Shaka International Airport.
General terminal access for regional airports: Port Elizabeth International, East London Airport, George Airport, Bram Fischer International, Kimberley Airport, and Upington International will not be opened immediately. Since the opening of air travel under lockdown Airports Company South Africa gave a guarantee that the re-opening of airports will be done in the most responsible manner, and with the priority being our passengers’ health. Due to capacity constraints at regional airports and the difficulty for people to adhere to physical social distancing when running at full capacity, the decision to open for non-travellers will be reviewed at a later stage.
“We are pleased to be able to further relax the restrictions. This will benefit passengers and their friends and families. The change in terminal access requirements also provides the opportunity for airport retailers, restaurants and other concessionaires to begin recovering from the devastation their businesses have suffered since 27 March,” says Sithebe.
“While ACSA has implemented rental relief and other steps for airport retailers and concessionaires, we believe the time is right to take further steps to support their recovery.”
The company anticipates that passenger volumes in the upcoming holiday season will be considerably greater than experienced in the months since June, particularly as more airlines will be operating domestically during this period.
“It is certainly safe to fly, but the constrained economic circumstances of many South Africans mean that domestic air travel will perhaps be about half of what it was in the 2019 holiday season.
“For international travel, the change in Level 1 regulations is most welcome and our international airports are geared to facilitate more passengers from other countries. However, we recognise that the countries that are our greatest sources of tourists are experiencing significant increases in Covid-19 infections and it may be challenging for people to travel from those countries,” says Sithebe.
She says that Airports Company South Africa appreciates that some of the airport protocols in place since June have been inconvenient but that protecting the health of everyone who uses an airport while still facilitating flights has been and remains the company’s priority.
Sithebe emphasises that opening terminal buildings to the public will be accompanied by the continued application of Covid-19 protocols.
Masks, hand sanitisation and physical distancing will be enforced in terminal buildings, including at retail, food and car hire outlets. Temperature screening and sanitisation will take place at entrances to terminals.