he East African Community Partner States are easing strict measures put in place to contain Covid-19 pandemic with strong signs emerging that one of the areas of focus will be on the opening of the airspace for passengers and cargo.
This week, EAC Secretariat started enhancing the capacity of staff at the eight international airports in the region on the prevention of and response to the spread of COVID-19 ahead of Partner States resuming their flight schedules.
The first training of trainers (TOT) started Tuesday this week at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi, Kenya. President Kenyatta, during his recent address to the nation indicated that the government would consider easing some of the restriction in order to open economy. The country has been enforcing a night curfew with a cessation of movement in the four counties- Kwale, Mombasa, Nairobi and Kilifi.
Tanzania has fully opened the economy and Uganda, which enforced a lock down has eased some of the strict measures put in place against Covid-19.
The ongoing training will follow in Mombasa, Juba, Entebbe, Bujumbura, Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro and Kigali, the EAC Secretariat said in a statement. The Civil Aviation Safety and Security Oversight Agency (EAC CASSOA) organizes and coordinates the training that are implemented by AMREF Flying Doctors.
The first training was officially opened by the Deputy Head of Mission and Head of Economic Affairs, at the German Embassy in Nairobi, Thomas Wimmer, and the Director General of the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority and CASSOA Board Chair, Capt. Gilbert M. Kibe.
CASSOA Executive Director Emile Nguza Arao said that “investments at International Airports to strengthen surveillance, building robust early-warning systems and coordinating public health responses go a long way to help prevent, detect, and respond to the COVID–19 outbreak.”
The capacity building targets staff from the Civil Aviation Authority, airline operators, port health, animal health, immigration, customs, cargo and baggage, security, airport rescue & firefighters as well as from the Collaborative Arrangement for the Prevention and Management of Public Health Events in Civil Aviation (CAPSCA).
The aviation sector has experienced its worst crisis more than the other sectors of the economy, according to Alexandre de Jennica, the chief executive officer of the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
The post coronavirus period is expected to usher in a new flying order. With recession and less cash available for travel, airlines are expected to brace for fewer booked seats, even as the fear to travel checks on.
The airlines are also expected to come up with stringent measures for those planning to fly, including possibly having a Covid-19 negative certificate, another costly addition to an expensive ticket, which will see reduction in the number of passengers.
Already, in its repatriation flights, Kenya Airways demanded the certificate from those who booked seats in its London, Mumbai and Guangzhou flights, an indication this will be the new order.
The East Africa region has also closed all its borders save for cargo and requires that anybody crossing the border to have a certificate of Covid-19 free.
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