Uganda Finally opens Entebbe International Airport
Uganda Finally opens Entebbe International Airport: Finally, the wait is over, Uganda opens up Entebbe International airport for operation and handling visitors including tourism. Following the address of His Excellency Yoweri Kaguta Museveni the president of the republic of Uganda on 20th September 2020 which aired on all media channels, the airport is set to start handling flights effective 1st October 2020. To back up the president announcement, the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA) announced that the first tentative schedule for International passenger flight for 3 months period (that is October, November and December).
The opening of the airport comes as a relief to tourism sector which has been mostly hurt by the COVID19 pandemic, Uganda is one of the top tourist destinations in the world depending mostly on tourism as a contributor to its economy earning approximately per year. Uganda’s tourism depends mostly on international tourists who visit the heaven gifted nation to come face to face with mountain gorillas on a gorilla trekking safari, enjoy sights of a variety of wildlife like lions, elephants, leopards in Queen Elizabeth and Kidepo national park, enjoy the crashing waves of Nile waters on rafting experience, hike mountain Rwenzori the known mountain of the moon and many more.
Unfortunately with the outbreak of the COVID19 pandemic and one of the ways to stop the spread of the Virus various activity were put on hold including tourism and as the county “Uganda” was put on lockdown, Entebbe international airport the main entry and exit point in Uganda was closed to passenger flights. The closure of the airport was aimed to stop to individuals from entering Uganda as a way of controlling the spread of COVID 19 virus.
Since then it has now been 5 months with no passenger flight allowed to land on the premises of Entebbe International airport, according to the letter by Eng Ayubu Sooma the UCAA (Uganda Civil Aviation Authority) the Director general for airports and aviation security to managers of airlines operating in Uganda. The first flight to land on Entebbe international airport will be Qatar Airways flight QR 1385 landing on 1 October if all goes as planned, the flight departs from Doha with a stopover at Entebbe before proceeding to Kigali the final destination of the flight.
As the airport is being opened, strict health measures are to be keenly followed by airlines as a way to ensure that the traveler do not contract COVID 19 as said by Dr Diana Atwine, the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Health on Aug 3. As per words from Vianney Luggya the publicist for Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA) “travelers are expected to be have a valid COVID 19 certificated issued 72 hours before the time of your arrival and upon your arrival at the airport your samples will be taken which are mandatory”. To add on the issue of guidelines, Luggya said that Entebbe international airport and airport authorities are to use standard operating procedures borrowed from the international Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the World Health Organization (WHO), the Airports Council International, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the African Civil Aviation Safety and Security Oversight Agency.
Travellers accessing the airport are emphasized to wear masks and keep social distance, at the premises of the airport health screening tents of incoming passengers have been erected and special tents have been designated to accommodate people with symptoms of COVID19. These tents are large executive tents with waiting lounges to create social distancing and have been funded by the Department for International Development and erected by World Food Programme. Eng. Sooma the General director of UCAA said that “the tents will enable us to address COVID 19 requirements such as social distancing, temperature screening, profiling and observation of arriving passengers contact between airport staff and passengers . Also Glass shield are to be introduced at check-in booths as a way of reducing direct”. According to Dr Jams Ejul the officer in charge of medical services at Entebbe international airport, aircraft operators have been notified to release not more than 50 passengers at ago when the airplane lands.
Some of the standard operating procedures (SOPs), all arriving passengers shall be required to test for COVID in the country of their residence before boarding a flight to Uganda. As for Ugandans flying to other countries shall be required to have valid health certificates from health ministry or undergo a rapid test before departure at the airport. As per new plan of the airport, all doors at the airport terminal are to be replaced with automatic sensor opening non-touchable ones and water tabs will be replaced with non-touchable as a way of preventing the spread of the virus through touching.
Vianney Luggya the publicist of UCAA said “the 150 billion shillings earlier requested by UCAA from the government of Uganda is meet to finance the maintenance, operational and other associated costs for the financial year of 2020/2021”. As contributions to the preparation, the United Nations donated a batch of equipment and sanitizers.
Get ready to start touring Uganda effective from 1st October.