Interview: Egypt tightens anti-coronavirus measures at airports ahead of resuming int'l flights: minister

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, June 22, 2020
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by Marwa Yahya

HURGHADA, Egypt, June 22 (Xinhua) -- Egypt has imposed strict preventive measure at all airports ahead of resuming international flights on July 1, Egyptian Minister of Civil Aviation Mohamed Manar said in a recent interview with Xinhua.

Such measures have been taken in accordance with the criteria proposed by the World Health organization (WHO) and the International Civil Aviation Organization against the spread of COVID-19, said Manar.

Passengers will be required to sign documents specifying information including the targeted city of residence in Egypt and health conditions, he explained.

According to the WHO list, travelers coming from countries affected by the pandemic will be required to submit a PCR test no later than 48 hours before their flight, Manar said.

All planes will be sterilized and disinfected, and facemasks are mandatory for the passengers and crews.

Distribution of paper publications onboard the plane will be banned, and only dry meals and canned drinks will be offered. Certain seats will be allocated for people with chronic diseases who may show symptoms, the minister said.

Sterilized gates and temperature scanners are installed inside the airports in case any passenger fabricated his health condition certificate but was proved to be infected by the virus, according to Manar.

Although the anti-COVID-19 precautionary measures are burdens for the flight crew, they have been well trained during the flights of transferring the Egyptians stranded abroad.

Egypt has suspended international flights since March 19 as a precautionary measure to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. Domestic flights, cargo and some special charters to repatriate stranded Egyptians have continued operation.

In April, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) expected Egypt's airline industry to face a potential loss in revenues of 1.6 billion U.S. dollars and 9.5 million fewer passengers in 2020 due to the coronavirus crisis.

Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said in March that local aviation firms suffer the losses of 143 million dollars in wake of the harsh anti-coronavirus measures.

"It's difficult to estimate the losses of the private airliner companies that shoulder the expense of planes' maintenance and insurance as well as the renting fees of the airports," said Manar.

However, the government has provided a package of economic incentives to boost the private sector, including postponing the payment of office rental fees inside the airports and the Central Bank of Egypt has provided soft loans with eight percent interests.

The profits of the tickets are very low ranging from 1.5 to 2 percent and the revenues of the aviation sector depend on the flow of the capital cycle, according to Manar.

To help the aviation sector make limited compensations, the passengers flights were allowed to transfer some goods that are noninflammable, not heavy and not liquid after the approval of the airports and the manufacturer of the plane.

EgyptAir, the nation's flag carrier, carries out only several flights per week currently compared to 150 flights per day before the outbreak of COVID-19, Manar said.

EgyptAir and Air Cairo airlines have transported some 57,000 stranded people with 315 flights since mid-March, according to the minister.

Egypt has announced plan to resume tourism in South Sinai, Hurghada and Matrouh provinces starting from July 1.

To help the recovery of the tourism industry, Manar said 50 percent discount on landing and parking fees, and 20 percent discount on ground service will be applied on the airlines to the three provinces' airports until end of October. Enditem

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