We welcome the announcement today by Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula, that George Airport will open to receive business travellers and cargo under Alert Level 3. As a critical transport link for providing access to the Garden Route District for many business travellers across South Africa, this decision provides much-needed support to jobs and the economy in the Western Cape.
That is why we have been working hard, together with the Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA), the George Airport management, George Municipality and our provincial Department of Health, to find a solution which will allow the George Airport to meet the criteria required for the airport to open.
Thanks to the efforts of all involved, the Western Cape Department of Health will partner with ACSA to ensure that Covid-19 screening is conducted at the George Airport.
This arrangement will remain in effect until ACSA have secured a permanent solution or the need for intensive Covid-19 screening no longer exists.
Since the beginning of Alert Level 3 the George Airport management have implemented significant health and safety steps to ensure the readiness of the airport to open during the Covid-19 pandemic.
This includes the implementation of social distancing and hygiene measures such as:
- Plexiglass at check-in counters
- Regular disinfection of key areas such as baggage trollies
- Reduced staffing, with essential staff working staggered shifts
- Use of signage and overhead announcements to share information on Covid-19 safety measures
Together with the additional Covid-19 screening measures we have provided, we are confident that George Airport is now ready to welcome businesses travellers to the Garden Route.
The importance of opening the George Airport for the economy of the Garden Route district cannot be understated.
Businesses in George and the Greater Knysna region are heavily dependent on business travellers having access via the George airport. The average number of passengers through the George Airport prior to the Covid-19 lockdown was around 55 000 passengers per month, of which approximately 40 per cent were business travellers.
For now, and perhaps for some time, flight travel will be different to what we’ve become accustomed to as we implement the necessary safety measures to stop the spread of Covid-19. There is no doubt that the Covid-19 pandemic will have a severe impact on businesses and the jobs, and so it is critical that where we can continue open the economy safely, even in a limited way, everyone sticks to the rules so that we can save businesses and save jobs in the Western Cape.