GEORGE NEWS - Since it became known on Monday that the George Airport is unlikely to open soon, there has been a public outcry, with people voicing their frustration on social media.
One of these was Western Cape Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, David Maynier, who expressed his disappointment on Twitter that George Airport was not among those that would be allowed to resume operations on Wednesday 1 July.
"This is a huge disappointment as @georgeairport is a critical transport link to the Garden Route District for many business travellers across South Africa. Opening the airport is important to the safe and responsible recovery of our economy in the Western Cape during Covid-19.
"We still need to determine why this decision was made by the Minister of Transport, but we will continue to work with national government, Airports Company South Africa and the George Municipality to address any outstanding issues preventing George Airport from opening," he tweeted.
He also referred to further airports being able to open once the Department of Transport is satisfied that all the necessary measures and staffing requirements are in place.
On Tuesday Senzeni Ndebele, spokesperson for the Airports Company South Africa (Acsa), told George Herald that since the closure of all airports on 27 March, cargo flights as well as flights for medical emergencies have been permitted.
According to her a number of measures that need to be in place are not under the control or management of Acsa. When airports are reopened, this is done in terms of regulations gazetted by the Minister of Transport. Currently, airports that are open or about to reopen are facilitating travellers for business purposes only.
The minister indicated on Monday that flying for leisure or tourism purposes was not currently under consideration.
The three regional airports that were due to resume operations on Wednesday, Upington International Airport, Port Elizabeth International Airport as well as Bram Fischer International Airport, are international airports that have permanent Port Health facilities.
One of the new requirements for an airport to resume operations is that all passengers must be screened by Port Health personnel prior to entering the airport - and the George, Kimberley and East London airports do not have Port Health facilities.
"We are currently engaging with relevant stakeholders in the affected areas to resolve this issue," said Ndebele. "The safety of all airport users is Acsa's first priority so we need to ensure that all airports before operating have all the necessary resources to implement the compulsory procedures required."
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