George Airport has reopened and will now be operating under lockdown Level 3 for business travellers and cargo. The Western Cape’s MEC for Finance and Economic Opportunities David Maynier has welcomed the announcement, as it is predicted to boost the province’s economy.
The announcement was made by Minister of Transport Fikile Mbulula. Maynier released a statement in response to the news, highlighting the importance of the opening of the George Aiport.
Business in George and the Greater Knysna regions is heavily reliant on business travellers being able to access the George Airport. Before lockdown, approximately 40% of the Aiport’s average of 55 000 passengers per month were business travellers.
“That is why we have been working hard, together with the Airports Company of South Africa (Acsa), the George Airport management, George Municipality and our provincial Department of Health, to find a solution which will allow the George Airport to meet the criteria required for the airport to open,” said Maynier.
“Thanks to the efforts of all involved, the Western Cape Department of Health will partner with Acsa to ensure that COVID-19 screening is conducted at the George Airport. This arrangement will remain in effect until Acsa have secured a permanent solution or the need for intensive COVID-19 screening no longer exists.”
“Since the beginning of alert Level 3, the George Airport management have implemented significant health and safety steps to ensure the readiness of the airport to open during the COVID-19 pandemic,” he added. “This includes the implementation of social distancing and hygiene measures such as: plexiglass at check-in counters; regular disinfection of key areas such as baggage trollies; reduced staffing, with essential staff working staggered shifts; and use of signage and overhead announcements to share information on COVID-19 safety measures.”
Together with the additional COVID-19 screening measures provided, Maynier is confident that George Airport is now ready to welcome businesses travellers to the Garden Route.
“For now, and perhaps for some time, flight travel will be different to what we’ve become accustomed to as we implement the necessary safety measures to stop the spread,” Maynier said.
“There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic will have a severe impact on businesses and the jobs, and so it is critical that where we can continue open the economy safely, even in a limited way, everyone sticks to the rules so that we can save businesses and save jobs in the Western Cape.”
Kimberley Airport and East London Airport will also reopen on July 21.