Domestic flight operations have resumed today, with the two main operators—Africa World Airlines (AWA) and PassionAir—announcing once-daily flight operations on the Accra-Kumasi-Accra and Accra-Tamale-Accra routes.
Africa World Airlines’ once-daily Accra-Kumasi-Accra flight departs Terminal 2 (the domestic terminal) of the Kotoka International Airport at 11:00am local time, while its Accra-Tamale-Accra flight departs at 14:30 local time daily.
PassionAir’s Accra-Tamale-Accra service departs at 10:30am local time, while the indigenous airline’s Accra-Kumasi-Accra flight departs at 14:40.
Sean Mendis, Chief Operations Officer of AWA, assured passengers of their safety following enhanced on-ground and onboard safety measures instituted.
“The domestic airlines have jointly developed a set of comprehensive safety protocols together with the airport and the state agencies that are aimed to protect passengers and crew. Air travel remains the safest form of transportation in human history, and we want to reassure our customers that when they fly with AWA, they can ‘Fly Safe, Fly Confident!’,” Mr. Mendis told Business24.
On his part, Samuel Razak Tachie, Sales and Marketing Manager of PassionAir, said: “Passengers should be rest assured that all the requisite COVID-19 preventive measures have been put in place to ensure their safety. It is very safe to fly because of all the mechanisms within the aircraft. We warmly welcome back our customers.”
Following the announcement of the first two COVID-19 cases in Ghana on March 12, demand for domestic air tickets dropped by about 30 percent within two weeks.
The subsequent announcement of restrictions on in-country movement further dampened demand. Left with no choice, airlines had to park their fleet in their hangers, waiting for the lifting of the restrictions.
However, the demand for air tickets after the lifting of the restrictions on April 20 has been encouraging, according to Business24 sources.
“As at Wednesday, we had more than 50 percent load factor (the percentage of airline seats that are filled). This is very encouraging,” a source said.
Aviation Ministry backs airlines to recover
The Aviation Ministry has backed domestic airlines to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Ministry, in partnership with Zoomlion, a subsidiary of the Jospong Group, fumigated the Kotoka International Airport this week in readiness for the resumption of flight operations.
The Aviation Minister, Joseph Kofi Adda, in a statement issued on Thursday, April 29 said: “The Ministry of Aviation wishes to assure the general public that the country’s airports are safe as they open for domestic operations, and the government remains committed to safety of passengers and service providers as part of measures to restoring normalcy to the aviation industry.
“We will review laid down protocols during the domestic operations and, when necessary, introduce improved procedures to further enhance the measures to strengthen the fight against the coronavirus pandemic as it affects the aviation sector.”
Airlines’ pre-planned safety protocols
Domestic airlines, in preparation for resumption of flights, had instituted various safety protocols to guide their operations.
All passengers, based on the protocols sighted by Business24, are expected to be subjected to thermal screening at check-in. Any passengers with body temperature detected above 37.3C will be referred to health authorities for further examination.
Wearing of nose covering for all passengers will be required during the flight. All passengers, crew and staff will be required to undergo hand sanitisation at the point of boarding the aircraft.
Additionally, all staff that interact with passengers will be required to wear surgical masks and gloves. The gloves must further be sanitised regularly when handling passenger documents.
No food or beverage service will be conducted onboard the aircraft to minimise contact between passengers and crew. The interior of an aircraft will also be sanitized before each flight.
In complying with social distancing requirements, passengers will be assigned seats so that no person is assigned a seat immediately adjacent to another passenger—with the exception of children under 12 travelling with an adult.