On Tuesday May 12, South Sudan’s Civil Aviation opened airports across the country and announced the resumption of both domestic and international flights despite a rise in the number of COVID-19 cases.
In a letter dated May 11, addressed to all airline operators in the country, David Subek Dada, chief executive officer of the agency said, “the country’s airspace opened on Tuesday in line with last week’s presidential directive to ease lockdown restrictions.”
Dada said travelers and airline operators will be required to adhere to preventive measures recommended by the Ministry of Health before being permitted entry. The measures include wearing of face masks, social distancing, and disinfection of all aircrafts on arrival.
International travelers are also required to produce medical certificates from their countries of origin declaring them COVID-19 free, and be subjected to a 14-day quarantine upon arrival to South Sudan.
Juba reported its first coronavirus cases on April 5 and the tally has since risen to 174 with zero deaths as of Monday. On March 24, South Sudan closed all airports and border crossings in a bid to contain the spread of the virus.
The aviation industry has been deeply affected by the pandemic, ranging from loss of jobs to little or no revenue generated. Dr. Karsten Benz, Professor for Aviation Management at Frankfurt University, explains that, in order to secure a successful future for as many airports as possible post-COVID-19, flexible and immediate action is mandatory.
Based on an assessment done by the International Air Transport Association, the global aviation industry could lose $63 billion in revenue due to the ongoing pandemic, more than double the $29.3 billion indicated in its initial assessment published in February. A broader impact could lead to losses of as much as $113 billion, depending on how the virus outbreak develops, as the industry’s prospect dims across the world.
Resuming airline operations now could to an extent minimize the blow on South Sudan’s aviation industry, but the move also raises the risk of accelerating the spread of the virus. This highlights the crucial need to ensure strict health measures are followed by passengers and airline operators as the economy reopens gradually, experts say.