Both travelers and domestic flight operators have welcomed the resumption of business, describing it as a ‘welcome relief.’
Last Friday, domestic flights from Accra to Kumasi and Tamale resumed, and though patronage has not been very high, the airline operators have expressed optimism that the resumption of domestic flights would help revive their businesses which virtually went down after the government banned flights in the wake of the novel coronavirus diseases (COVID-19)
According to Passion Air and Africa World Airlines (AWA), the response of passengers to the resumption of flights was an indication that ‘business will bounce back.’
They said patronage on the few days had not been as it was before COVID-19, nonetheless, they were very optimistic that the numbers would increase in the coming days.
They have thus called on passengers to feel comfortable patronizing their services as they have put in place all the necessary precautionary measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 and ensure their safety.
Some passengers said it was reassuring that domestic flights had resumed because ‘it was convenient and more safe.”
A visit to the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) over the weekend revealed that passengers were steadily trooping in to Terminal Two, the terminal reserved for domestic flights, to board their flights.
Last Saturday, about 30 people were flown to Kumasi, while yesterday, at the time of visit, passengers on the flight to Kumasi had already left, and at 11:30a.m. passengers were arriving to go through formalities for AWA’s 1:00p.m. flight to Tamale.
Staff of the various operational units were on duty and enforcing the laid down procedure.
The Daily Graphic team also observed that the airport had instituted many mandatory safety protocols, such as the wearing of face masks, use of hand sanitisers as well as social distancing to curb the spread of COVID -19.
At the check-in area, red stickers had been used to indicate the distances between the airline staff and the passengers in queue.
Also, it was observed that taxi drivers had come to the airport ready to serve customers.
A few people were also seen at the waiting area of the arrival point to pick up family members who were arriving from the two cities whose flights had resumed.
The scene at the departure area of the airport was an opposite story of the normally busy nature of the airports, particularly on weekends, where people rushed in either to catch their flights or see if they could grab a seat at the last minute to help them deal with an emergency.
Sales and Marketing Manager of Passion Air, Mr Samuel Razak Tachie, told the Daily Graphic that passenger figures were low due to the social distancing on aircraft and the general lifestyle changes as a result of COVID-19.
“People are not travelling to places for social activities such as funerals, weddings due the ban on public gathering brought about by COVID-19.
“We started operations last Friday and our destinations are Kumasi and Tamale. These are early days yet but we expect the numbers to build up gradually in the coming days,” he said.
Mr Tachie said social distancing and other safety measures had been implemented as part of the boarding process at the airports to ensure the safety of passengers and staff.
He explained that all passengers, airport staff and crew were required to wear face masks, wash and sanitise their hands before they were allowed entry into the airports.
Also, he said social distancing protocols were strictly observed at the waiting areas before passengers boarded the aircraft and on the aircraft.
“Passengers sit two metres apart on aircraft while the aircraft are disinfected after every flight.’’
“We want to assure the general public that we have put in place all the necessary measures to ensure their safety so they should not worry when they fly with us,” he said.
Feel confident to fly
The Chief Operations Officer (COO) of AWA, Mr Sean Mendis, said the reception from passengers after the resumption of flights had been very encouraging.
He said it was important for passengers to know that the resumption of domestic flights was done after a thorough implementation of safety measures by airlines and airport authorities to ensure passengers’ safety.
He assured passengers to have confidence using flights to get to their destination.
“Air travel remains the safest form of transportation in Ghana. We have worked together with the various agencies and stakeholders to introduce industry leading protocols that assure passengers they can ‘Fly Safe, Fly Confident!” he said.
Some of the passengers who spoke to the Daily Graphic said the resumption of domestic flights meant they could now go about their business in a more timely manner.
Mr Richard Nii Amugi, a passenger who was about to board an AWA flight from Accra to Tamale, said he once had an unforgettable encounter when he travelled to Tamale by road due to the suspension of flights.
“I remember one day the bus I was travelling on got to a place where armed robbers had attacked three other vehicles. Fortunately, we just got there after the robbery had taken place. It was a really traumatic experience for us. The resumption in flights is really good news,” he said.
Another passenger, who gave his name only as Rex, said the resumption of domestic flights would spare him the stress of travelling by road to Tamale, which normally took a minimum of 12 hours.
Resumption of flights
International and domestic flights were halted from March 30 to April 20, 2020 as part of measures announced by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to curtail the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
However, the President announced a resumption of domestic flights when he lifted the ban on restriction of movement during his address to the nation on April 20.
After the lifting of the ban, the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) introduced several safety measures at the airports and on flights to ensure passenger safety.
Last week, the GCAA also disinfected all the airports in readiness for the resumption of domestic flights.
Source: Graphic online