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Entebbe International Airport will likely open on October 1, 2020

UCAA announces tentative date for reopening Entebbe Airport

The director wrote to airline bosses, including those of Qatar Airways, Turkish Airlines, Ethiopia Airways, Kenya Airways, Rwanda Air, and Uganda Airlines on September 8, informing them of the development.

The Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA) issued a tentative schedule that will be followed as Entebbe International Airport starts accepting passenger flights.

According to Eng. Sooma Ayub, the director of Airports and Aviation Security, the airport, which has been closed for about five months, will likely open on October 1.

The director wrote to airline bosses, including those of Qatar Airways, Turkish Airlines, Ethiopia Airways, Kenya Airways, Rwanda Air, and Uganda Airlines on September 8, informing them of the development.

The flights will be from cities such as Doha, Amsterdam, Addis Ababa, Juba, Kigali, and Nairobi and the schedule will run for 3 months.
President Museveni at the end of August directed the National Task Force on COVID-19 Response to look into how the government could facilitate the safe reopening of sectors that were still closed, of which aviation is among.

The closure of the airport has heavily impacted key sectors, including the tourism sectors which is the country’s biggest foreign exchange earner. In May, President Museveni announced that the country was set to lose $1.6 billion from the tourism sector since the airport had been shut from passenger flights and millions of tourists in the country are foreigners.

Uganda earned about Shs5. 8 trillion from tourism in the 2018/2019 financial year, making the sector the country’s leading foreign currency earner for the fifth year in a row, according to government data.

The number of tourists in 2019 reached 1,505,669 up from 1,402,409 in 2017. In the FY2018/19, the tourism sector accounted for 7.7 percent of the national GDP and 6.7 percent of total national employment after creating 667,600 jobs.

Our neighbors Kenya, Tanzania, and Rwanda have already resumed commercial flights. A few weeks ago we looked at some of the SOPs that had been drafted to guide the safe reopening of the airport and they included the installation of automated sanitizing facilities at strategic points, marks at the airport to ensure social distancing, acquisition of temperature guns, and ultra-modern scans to detect the temperature at a 30-meter distance.

Others are erection of executive tents at the airside and these will be used for screening and isolation to identify symptoms and testing for Covid-19.

Uganda opens airport and land borders for Tourists after 8-month closure

Uganda’s president announced Sunday that the country’s international airport and land borders will reopen and resume operations for tourists after a more than six-month closure as part of measures against the spread of COVID-19. Yoweri Museveni’s announcement came during his 20th address to the nation on government measures to contain the virus’s spread in the country.

The president also said any passengers arriving in Uganda must be in possession of a negative COVID-19 polymerize chain reaction (PCR) test result from an accredited laboratory in the country of origin.

The test should have been conducted within the last 72 hours before the scheduled departure from the country of origin. Returning Ugandans with negative PCR results will be allowed to go home, and the Health Ministry will only get their addresses for follow up.

The president also announced that schools are allowed to partially open for candidate classes next month, while places of worship should open with strict standard operating procedures.

The Uganda Civil Aviation Authority in a letter to the airlines’ executives said 13 flights to and from the airport have been cleared for the first day, while 10 flights are confirmed for the second.

Airlines in the country, including the national carrier Uganda Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Kenya Airways, Qatar Airways, Air Tanzania, Ethiopian Airlines, Fly Dubai, Rwanda Air, KLM, Emirates, Brussels Airlines, and Tarco Aviation are expected to resume flights following the president’s announcement.

Entebbe International Airport was closed to passenger traffic since March except for evacuation and repatriation flights and cargo. The closure hit sectors hard like tourism, which mostly relies on aviation.

Uganda’s total confirmed COVID-19 cases hit 8,965, with  82 deaths and 5,078 recoveries.

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