Cape Town – There were cheers as Cape Town International Airport (CTIA) welcomed its first international flights on Thursday under the relaxed level 1 of the national lockdown.
Emirates flight EK772 from Dubai arrived just after 1pm, followed by Ethiopian Airlines ET 847 at 1.30pm, with more carriers, including Qatar, signalling a commitment to continue to fly to Cape Town.
One of the passengers, Sithembile Dlamini, said she travelled from Saudi Arabia for her sister’s funeral.
“The flight was well organised with lots of space in between the passengers. It was very clean.”
Nelia Hanekom said she travelled from Dubai to Cape Town for a holiday. She said she was surprised by the welcoming, and commended CTIA for its “warn and entertaining” welcoming.
Deon Cloete, CTIA general manager, said since it first resumed with domestic flights, the airport team has worked tirelessly to ensure that it regained consumer trust by protecting the health and wellness of staff and visitors to the airport.
Cloete said it used the lockdown period effectively in collaboration
with all airport partners to redesign end-to-end processes, plan and introduce new technologies, including Covid-19 monitors and trained all staff across the value chain on new processes and protocols.
“We are ready. All the necessary safety measures have been put in place to ensure that travellers are able to safely navigate the airport to reach their holiday destinations safely and have a quality airport experience,” he said.
Finance and Economic Opportunities MEC David Maynier said the tourism and hospitality sector’s survival is dependent on international leisure travellers in the summer season and for that reason it is critical that it looks at smart ways to open the international borders, especially for the key source markets, so that it could save jobs and the economy in the Western Cape.
Maynier said he would be engaging with national government and preparing a further submission proposing an alternative to the risk-based approach for international travel.
Mayoral committee member for economic opportunities and asset management James Vos said he was delighted to welcome back the international visitors yesterday.
Vos said the visitor economy is everyone’s business as it brings in much needed revenue to the city and supports thousands of jobs.
He said the opening of the international borders was an important step to help rebuild the economy in the province, and so with the tourism marketing campaigns.
Cape Town Tourism chief executive Enver Duminy said both its international and domestic tourism market were key to the local industry, and those arrivals and the opening of the borders, albeit in a limited manner, bringing lots of hope to those who relied on tourism as an economic lifeline.
“Our warmth, passion, welcoming nature, our friendliness is the magic ingredient that keeps visitors coming back to Cape Town year after year.
“We are confident that these visitors will be able to enjoy our city in a safe and healthy manner once again,” Duminy said.
Transport and Public Works MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela said the reopening of the CTIA to international travel was a vital milestone on the road to the economic recovery.
He said Cape Town and the Western Cape remained high on the list of destinations for travellers.
“The restoration of international travel is a significant economic issue without which the economic recovery and prosperity of the city and province will continue to be held back,” Madikizela said.