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NC airport on standby to receive aircraft in distress

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The Upington Airport has been identified.

File image: Xinhua/Liu Xiao

OPERATIONAL staff at the Upington Airport have been warned by the Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula, to be on standby to receive aircraft that are in distress.

Presenting the aviation and maritime update during the national lockdown on Tuesday, Mbalula confirmed that the repatriation of foreign nationals from South Africa back to their respective countries was allowed, while the evacuation of South African citizens who wanted to come back home was also allowed. Both are, however, subject to certain conditions.

In terms of the repatriations, foreign countries must charter their aircraft to South Africa without passengers except the crew. The crew is not allowed to disembark.

With regard to the evacuation of South Africans who want to come back home, the passenger must have a fully paid return flight ticket. On arrival he/she will be subjected to mandatory quarantine for a period of up to 21 days. The crew will also be subject to mandatory quarantine laws.

“All other international and domestic passenger flights are still prohibited, irrespective of the risk category of the country of origin, except those flights especially authorised by the Ministry of Transport, for the evacuation of South African nationals in foreign countries,” Mbalula said.

The following technical flights will, however, be  allowed: medical evacuation flights; aircraft in a state of emergency; overflights; technical landings for refuelling; and aircraft operations related to humanitarian aid, relief flights and other safety related operations.

“Medical evacuation flights should not carry passengers except patients and crew, who, upon landing, will be subjected to mandatory quarantine laws. Technical landing flights are allowed on condition that no passenger may disembark.”

He stated that the following airports should have standby operational staff who will receive aircraft that are in distress: Port Elizabeth, Bram Fischer, Upington, Polokwane and Kruger Mpumalanga.

Air transportation of all cargo – essential and non-essential – is permitted.