COVID-19 Task Force greenlights phased reopening of airports
−Phase 1 of 4 already underway
−Aviation Authority makes presentation of plan to regional and international partners
By Shaquille Bourne
DPI, Guyana, Monday, June 8, 2020
The National COVID-19 Task Force has set into motion a blueprint for the 4-stage phased reopening of the country’s airports to international travel.
This was disclosed by Director General of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) Lt. Col. Egbert Field.
At a webinar hosted on Monday by the GCAA, the aviation body submitted the blueprint to 48 local, regional and international stakeholders.
“They [the stakeholders] were able to make some very valuable contributions that we will be looking it, not only now but in the future to see how we can take aviation into the post-COVID-19 period,” the Director-General told DPI.
DG Field was adamant the reopening of the airports must not be rushed. To that effect, the GCAA head stated that critical planning, as outlined by Phase 1 of the blueprint, is essential to the airports’ resuming international travel.
During this phase that began June 1, Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) were developed to guide health, safety and security at the airports and aboard flights in light of COVID-19.
Further, the GCAA has already drafted regulations that will bolster the SOPs by applying penalties to individuals and entities should there be any infractions.
DG Field added that training for stakeholders to interact with passengers also forms a necessary part of the phased reopening plans.
Phase 2 is expected to be set into a higher gear with travel permitted for diplomats, foreign workers. It will also see an increase in repatriation flights while moving towards the resumption of regional and international travel. This phase will culminate on July 31.
For Phase 3 which will commence in August, paving the way for more travel of foreign nationals and the persons in the tourism and business sectors. It will run until year-end when phase 4 will kickstart. That phase leads to the further reopening of the airports into 2021.
Throughout all phases, the Director-General noted there will be continuous engagement with all stakeholders to make adjustments where necessary. Further, he pledged GCAA’s commitment to working alongside other states within the region to have a harmonised reopening strategy.
“We have got to keep an eye on the environment,” the Director-General emphasised. The circumstances are said to be fluid and therefore subject to change.
Presentations at Monday’s webinar were made by Minister within the Ministry of Public Infrastructure Hon. Jaipaul Sharma, officials from the Timehri and Ogle airports along with the Ministry of Public Health’s Chief Medical Officer. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), International Air Transport Association (IATA) and representatives of airlines also made presentations.
On March 18, Guyana closed its airports to international travel to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The emergency measures that include the airports’ closure have been extended to June 17.