WATCH | SA’s first flights take off – here’s how air travel has changed
- Domestic passenger flights have resumed in South Africa.
- CemAir took the skies on Friday, while Airlink will start flying on Monday.
- Travellers have to present a travel permit, and won't get any food on the plane.
- For more articles, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.
On Friday, the first domestic passenger flights resumed between Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International Airport and Cape Town.
The small independent airline CemAir was the first to take flight since the start of the national lockdown at the end of March.
Air travel for business purposes is now permitted under Alert Level 3, after being banned in previous stages of the lockdown.
The first CemAir flight early on Friday morning from Johannesburg to Cape Town was around three-quarters full, and another flight returned to Johannesburg later the same day.
“Today is a good day for us,” says Bongiwe Pityi-Vokwana, Airports Company of South Africa’s general manager at OR Tambo. She says the airport is ready for the return of flights, readying measures including physical distance markers.
Tickets for flights between Johannesburg and Cape Town, as well as between Johannesburg and Durban, are now for sale. There are still tickets available from R2,730 one-way between Johannesburg and Cape Town on Monday, but tickets are available from around R1,800 from Tuesday.
Both Mango and FlySafAir will start flying on Monday, June 15th. SAA is also selling tickets for mid-June – but its business rescue practitioners say there is “no certainty” it will be in a position to fly.
Comair, which operates kulula and British Airways in SA and entered business rescue (a version of bankruptcy protection) last month, will only start flying again in October or November.
Here's what you can expect when flying during lockdown:
- You must present a relevant travel permit and letter from your employer authorising travel. This will be checked at the entrance of airports and again at check-in and boarding.
- Only travellers will be allowed to enter terminal airport buildings under rules for Alert Level 3; anyone picking up or dropping off a passenger must remain outside.
- You must arrive at least two-and-half hours prior to your flight “as a contingency for any unforeseen delays”, Mango advises.
- You have to arrive at the airport with a mask on, or you won’t be allowed in.
- Your temperature will be checked before the flight.
- Boarding will be by section to stop crowding, and passengers will be called to gates in a staggered fashion.
- Where airport buses are used, those will be limited to loading 70% of their maximum capacity.
- Planes are allowed to fly at full capacity - so you can't expect physical distancing when it comes to seating. But you can “block” the seat next to you for R750 on FlySafair. Mango says it will "strategically” seat passengers on its planes (at not cost) - apart from families, who will sit together.
- The last row of every flight must be reserved for "suspected cases" of Covid-19, in case a passenger with symptoms of the disease somehow gets through pre-boarding temperature checks.
- No food or drink will be provided on the plane – you must bring your own.
- In-flight magazines won’t be available.
Video by Chanté Schatz, News24
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