You will not be required to have a Covid-19 free certificate to fly, as had been expected, but you must not show any fever or coronavirus symptoms before you board an aircraft for the country’s airports.
This is part of the new protocols formulated by the Ministry of Transport and aviation players for air travel during the Covid-19 pandemic in preparation for the resumption of flights.
The protocols come barely two weeks after President Uhuru Kenyatta directed their formulation, and set the stage for the reopening of the airspace for domestic flights.
On Sunday Transport Principal Secretary Samuel Kitungu toured the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to assess the measures the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) had put in place for the resumption of passenger operations.
The Protocol for Air Travel Operations during The Covid-19 Public Health Crisis exclusively obtained by Nation provides the best practices on conducting commercial passenger air transport while ensuring the health and safety of the passengers, staff and crew by through operations that minimise the risk of transmitting the coronavirus.
Transport and Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said that the adverse impact of the virus had been experienced in most sectors of the economy, with the aviation industry being among the worst hit, necessitating a protocol to guide air travel and ensure its resumption.
“This protocol has been developed to help contain the spread of the virus and ensure that the sector is opened up, taking cognizance of the measures put in place by the Ministry of Health,” Mr Macharia said.
The protocols, which will be reviewed every three months, cover five key areas: the airports, passenger management, aircraft and arrival process, the management of aircrew and operators, and disinfection and sanitisation.
The implementation of the protocol will see the airport management agency, KAA, invest in new safety and health equipment.
KAA is expected to invest in whole-body scanners to avoid invasive screening both for the safety of the passengers and staff. The authority is also expected to upgrade its security cameras and CCTVs to be able to use biometrics even when people are wearing face masks.
To ease congestion, the agency will be required to install four extra security screening machines at the PSY at JKIA to ease congestion.
“Unlike in the past, passengers and airline operator crew shall be advised to remove items such as belts, and items from their pockets like wallets, keys and phones, and put them in their carry-on bags instead of the bins to reduce touchpoints during screening. KAA shall dedicate special bins for shoes only and disinfect them regularly, “the new protocols say.
On passenger management, all passengers must have their temperature checked using thermal scanners and thermal guns, before they enter the airport to identify those whose temperature is 37.5 degrees or higher.
“Where a passenger’s body temperature will be found to be 37.5 degrees or higher, temperature checks will be repeated at least once for confirmation purposes.
‘‘Any passenger with an elevated body temperature shall be referred to secondary assessment by port health services present at the airport for Covid-19 testing and will not be allowed to travel,” the new rules say.
Passengers will be encouraged to check in online, with detailed information for contact tracing before they are allocated a seat and provided with their boarding pass.
Airlines will also be expected to have their own contracted medical team at the check-in counters to help assess the passengers’ fitness to fly.
“Before accepting any passengers on the flight, the air operator’s medical team, in conjunction with the Port Health and Air Operators Passenger Services, shall check the health conditions of the passengers by screening and profiling.
Confirmed or suspected cases, or those who can pose potential health risks shall be notified at the earliest opportunity and not be accepted for travel,” the protocol says.
The protocols will also allow passengers to carry with them up to a maximum of 100ml of liquid sanitisers (in a transparent package) as part of carry-on luggage.
Aboard the aircraft, the operators will be expected to provide guidance material on preventive measures, including hand hygiene, particularly before eating or drinking, and after use of the toilet.
Other guidance materials expected include the appropriate use of face masks, limiting contact with cabin surfaces and reduced movement in the aircraft.
The protocol also seems to appreciate the difficulty airlines might have of reworking their seating arrangement to conform to the social distancing rule, instead urging the air operators will ensure, to the extent possible, physical distancing among passengers.