With commercial aviation having resumed on August 1, after months of a suspended activity due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Kigali International Airport has made several changes and adjustments to ensure the safety of passengers and airport staff.
The New Times engaged Charles Habonimana, the Managing Director at Rwanda Airport Company for insights into some of the changes and adjustments.
Check-in 4 hours before departure
New processes have been adopted for departing passengers to ensure compliance with new local and international standards and procedures that aim at ensuring safety.
At Kigali International Airport, the check-in time has been increased from two to four hours, a move Rwanda Airport Company said is to ensure the safety of passengers and crew.
Welcoming parties for returning travelers, will also not be allowed going forward as arrivals will be tested for Covid-19 and transit to designated hotels as they wait for their test results.
“In a bid to ensure the health and safety of everyone, we encourage that only departing travelers to come to the airport. For arriving passengers, their welcoming parties will meet them at their designated hotels, after they have been tested for Covid-19,” Habonimana said, adding that results will return in 24 hrs and if negative they proceed home.
Airport staff to operate in shifts
The airport will maintain the current staff capacity which has been scheduled to work in shifts, in compliance with the Ministry of Health safety measures such as social distancing. Just like frontline workers, airport staff will be periodically tested for Covid-19 to ensure the safety of passengers and their colleagues.
The staff was also trained in the measures and new processes in collaboration with Ministry of Health/RBC to ensure safe operations at airports in Rwanda.
Six airlines get clearance to fly into Rwanda
So far, six airlines have been cleared to resume operations in Rwanda on different dates with more expected to join in the coming days. These include RwandAir, Ethiopian Airlines, SN Brussels, Qatar Airways, Kenya Airways, and KLM.
In the process, the airlines have been required to submit applications for the resumption of operations and an updated airline schedule.
The updated schedule allows airports to manage traffic with new measures in place.
Ongoing airport upgrade and operationalization of airstrips
According to Habonimana, the upgrade of Kigali International Airport is still ongoing and is expected to increase space in the airport terminal area.
The upgrade has however not affected the re-opening of the airport.
Habonimana added that there are also plans to make operational regional airstrips such as Kamembe.
Compliance to international and local standards
Rwanda Airport Company noted putting in place the new compliance measures at the airport was guided by regulations from various organisations including the International Civil Aviation Organization, the International Air Transport Association, the World Health Organisation, the Ministry of Health, and the Rwanda Civil Aviation Auathority.
International passengers arriving at Kigali International Airport from across the world must have taken a Covid-19 test within not more than 72 hours since their departure.
This also concerns transiting passengers.
Guidelines from the Rwanda Biomedical Centre also requires arriving passengers to fill out a passenger address forms available on RBC’s website in addition to their Covid-19 certificates.
They will also be screened and required to take a second test on arrival to confirm their negative status after which they will be taken to one of the designated hotels for up to 24 hours as they await their results.
To facilitate their transit, the government has negotiated discounted rates at 17 city hotels where they will shelter until their results return.
Tests will be administered at $50 with an additional $10 medical service fee.
Test results will be relayed to guests via email or text message.Follow https://twitter.com/ByCollinsMwai