As the aviation industry worldwide, continues to observe a low recovery process after the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic, Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA) has registered 1,200 passengers everyday. According to Eng. Ayub Sooma, the director for airports and aviation security, the first three days since Entebbe airport was reopened for passenger flights on October 1, saw registration of a high number of passengers, especially those coming into the country.
“However, the number has since reduced. But we remain among those airports in the world that have registered quite a high number of travellers since passenger flights resumed,” noted Eng. Sooma. The director for airports and aviation security said Entebbe airport used to receive 5,400 passengers daily, before Covid-19 outbreak which was followed by a partial lock-down of the aviation industry.
He made the remarks on Wednesday while receiving a consignment of masks and other Covid-19 safety equipment that were donated by the Korean International Corporation Agency (KOICA) at Entebbe airport. “The equipment will go a long way in ensuring safety of passengers and front-line airport staff,” stated Eng. Sooma adding that KOICA partnered with UCAA in 2018 to modernise aeronautical infrastructure in the country. There is an on-going automation of systems at Entebbe airport as part of the US$9.5m grant from the Korean government. A terminal operations control centre and training facility have been erected to deliver a computerised maintenance management system and air traffic message handling system among others.
Meanwhile, Vianney Luggya the UCAA Public affairs manager earlier said, on the first day (October 1), 1,362 passengers were recorded, out of whom, 761 were arriving whereas 601 were departing. “And on the second day, we recorded 1,483 passengers, 848 of whom were arriving and 635 were departing,” Luggya stated earlier. According to Luggya, before Covid-19 outbreak, between 100-120 flights were being registered at Entebbe airport everyday. When passenger operations were suspended, flight handlers started seeing between 7-14 flights every day, majorly with cargo.
Last year, Entebbe airport saw 1.98 million passengers go through its gates, a 7.6% increase from the 2018 figure of 1.84 million. Based on these numbers, the airport authorities were ready to see at least two million travelers depart, arrive or go through the airport this year. Passenger traffic in January this year was registered at 150,000 people, which number fell by 7.1% in February to about 140,000. In April, passenger traffic fell to only 987, which number kept reducing until the repatriation exercise began.
UCAA officials are optimistic that the aviation industry is slowly getting back to its feet by adjusting to the new way of doing business with observance of health Standard Operating Procedures.