What to expect from air travel during lockdown

Posted by Kyro Mitchell on 31 May 2020

As South Africa moves closer to Level 3 of the nationwide lockdown, men and woman around the country will once again be allowed to travel for business purposes. However, the decision does not come without new travel regulations. Here’s what to expect when travelling during lockdown and possibly beyond.

General Manager for Corporate Traveller, Uzair Oz Desai warns that the travel experience will be very different when we reach Level 3 of the lockdown.

Desai outlines the importance of understanding the new rules and regulations for business travel in the future. ‘Business travellers can and should expect that the travel rules and regulations will change constantly as risk levels are continuously re-assessed,’ he says.

He also went on to explain how important it will be to work closely with travel advisers moving forward.

‘Working with a professional travel consultant will become a non-negotiable as these experts will be able to advise travellers on the documentation that is required, the airline regulations and requirements as well as the safety guidelines put in place by hotels and other accommodation establishments.’

Business travellers can expect the following changes in travel regulations when the nation reaches Level 3.

1. International Travel is still off the cards

As South Africa’s borders remain closed, international passenger flights are still off the cards for now. Only local business travel will be permitted under Level 3.

2. Recreational, leisure or tourism travel will remain banned

Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula has clearly outlined that travel for recreational, leisure or tourism purposes is not allowed for now. Air travel will therefore be for business travel only.

3. Limited flights will be available

The Ministry has revealed that Cape Town International Airport, King Shaka International and OR Tambo International Airport will open for domestic flights from Monday, 1 June.

Lanseria International Airport will open as soon as the availability of Port Health Officers has been confirmed.

At a later stage during Level 3, Kruger Mpumalanga, Polokwana and Bram Fischer International Airports could open followed by Kimberley, Upington, East London, Umtata and Port Elizabeth.

‘Airlines have told us they are meeting, discussing and evaluating both their readiness to fly and the commercial viability of doing so. We will continue to update our platforms including our website with the latest updates on which airlines are starting as well as the documentation that will be required.’ Desai explained.

4. New airport regulations

Drop off and pick up is only permitted outside the terminal building.

Any traveller who enters the airport will need to wear a face mask and carry documentation from their company outlining the reason for their travels. Without this documentation, travellers will be denied boarding.

All travellers will be screened before entering the terminal building, and will be denied access should they have elevated temperature or present with signs of being infected with COVID -19. Any suspected cases will be reported to health officials. After the flight, upon landing, all passengers will once again be screened and suspected cases referred to health officials.

In a briefing to parliament, the Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA) outlined further measures at the airport. This included the possibility of luggage sanitation for both carry-on and checked luggage, strict social distancing and self-scanning of boarding passes. Boarding will also be staggered to ensure social distancing.

5. What to expect onboard flights

Airlines will be allowed to operate at full capacity. Minister Mbalula ensured the public that the risk of contracting COVID-19 on aircraft is much lower than in other confined spaces and public transport. He explained that all aircraft are fitted with high-level HEPA filters that eliminate all viruses, including COVID-19.

Other points of note include:

-Travellers will be asked to wear masks onboard flights.

-No catering will be provided onboard,

-No onboard magazines available.

-The last row of the aircraft will be reserved for isolation purposes in the event that a passenger needs to be isolated.

– All aircraft will be thoroughly disinfected after each flight.

6. The accommodation Sector

Hotels and accommodation establishments will be open for business travellers only. The establishment will therefore likely ask travellers to confirm that they are travelling on business prior to accepting your booking.

Hotels will have stringent health measures in place. Buffets will likely be scrapped, while room and linen cleaning frequency may be reduced to lower contamination risks and turndown service might be eliminated.

To reduce surfaces in rooms, all excess softs cushions, throws, extra blankets etc., and décor items could be removed. Mini-bar stock will have been reduced to a minimum.

The new travel landscape could lead to uncertainty and anxiety for travellers and companies nationwide. Desai suggests that all companies get in touch with their local travel consultant to discuss the possibility of compiling a clear and transparent travel policy.

The unprecedented times we face comes the need for flexibility, especially with something as important as travel policy. An interim travel policy created for this specific situation is the best way forward and will highlight responsibilities, duty of care and destination restrictions.

Image: Pixabay

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