JEDDAH: The coronavirus pandemic 'nearly paralyzed’ the global transport sector, a Saudi government minister said Saturday, as the Kingdom prepared for domestic flights to resume on Sunday morning.
Around 100 flights are due to take off and things will soon be back to normal despite the disruption of the past few months, the Minister of Transport Eng. Saleh bin Nasser Al-Jasser said.
“The pandemic has nearly paralyzed the transport sector, except for the few repatriation flights that were ordered to bring some citizens from abroad and the flights that carried some expats to their countries,” the minister told Arab News as he reflected on the economic losses and sharp decline in movement due to the COVID-19 crisis.
The minister, who was inspecting the readiness of Terminal 1 at King Abdulaziz International Airport to welcome travelers, is also chairman of the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA).
He said that the ministry was in close contact with other authorities - including airlines and the GACA - regarding updates about the coronavirus situation and providing all possible assistance to airline operators.
The minister was accompanied by GACA president, Abdul-Hadi bin Ahmed Al-Mansouri, and reviewed the precautionary measures in place to maintain the safety of people at all airports.
GACA has called on all travelers to follow the precautionary and preventive measures at airports and to follow health guidelines to prevent the spread of coronavirus. These include buying flights electronically and limiting airport entry to passengers only, with the exception of people accompanying the elderly or disabled.
GACA requires all travelers to go through thermal checkpoints before entering the terminal. Only passengers whose temperature is less than 38 degrees Celsius will be allowed on planes. The authority has also urged all passengers to wear face masks when entering airports and during flights, emphasizing that nobody will be allowed to board a plane without one.
It wants passengers to maintain a distance of two meters from others and to stand on guidance stickers placed on the terminal floor.
Passengers must arrive at the airport's departure hall two hours before the flight's departure time. They must sterilize their hands when entering the terminal and safely dispose of their face masks when leaving the terminal.
The authority has encouraged people to use electronic payment methods and says that passengers should not stow more than one piece of luggage in the aircraft’s overhead cabins.
It has requested passengers to report any suspected case of coronavirus.