Photo: A Saudia plane at King Abdul Aziz airport in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on December 31, 2019.

Islamic Lifestyle

What does air travel look like amid COVID-19? Saudi Arabia releases rules for domestic flights


Saudi Arabia on Thursday (May 28) released guidelines for domestic flights by national carriers that will be allowed to take to the skies once more from May 31. The Kingdom grounded domestic flights on March 20 due to COVID-19 restrictions.

International flights remain suspended. Saudi Arabia is targeting June 21 for re-opening of its economy post-lockdown, except for Makkah which is working on a stricter schedule.

The General Authority of Civil Aviation’s new rules for domestic flights are for airports and civil aviation workers, and also cover preventive measures at departure and arrival, and passengers’ obligations.

AIRPORTS

  • All 28 of the country’s airports must provide sterilisers for use by all workers and passengers.
  • All airport workers and air crews are to disinfect and wear face masks, gloves and protective shields. They must also get medical examinations.
  • Airports are to be continuously disinfected every three hours.
  • Airplanes must be disinfected after each flight, and the time between flights cannot be less than three hours to ensure thorough cleaning.

DEPARTURES

New measures for departures include:

  • Before travelling: Only travelers are allowed into departure terminals. Persons accompanying the elderly or people with disabilities are allowed.
  • Passenger screening: Thermal checks
  • Travel is forbidden for those not wearing face masks.
  • Baggage carts are to be disinfected continuously.
  • Glass barriers must separate passengers from boarding pass and baggage delivery providers.
  • Seating and waiting areas: Two metres must be kept between passengers in spaces where they gather, empty seats to be maintained between passengers in seating areas,
  • Restaurants, cafes, shops: Two metres between passengers and all service providers such as those in cafes and restaurants. Shops are encouraged to use electronic payment methods and reduce use of physical cash.
  • Boarding: Gradual boarding of passengers, air bridges, buses and medical cranes must be disinfected before and after use for each flight.
  • Onboard planes: Passengers must keep their face masks on during the whole flight, as well as wear gloves, Vacant seats are to be left between passengers, and each passenger is only allowed one carry-on.

ARRIVALS

The same rules apply for arrivals, especially physical distancing, disinfecting, wearing face masks.

PASSENGER OBLIGATIONS

  • Passengers can only buy airline tickets electronically.
  • Make a medical disclosure while booking flight tickets.
  • Must wear face mask while entering the airport, throughout their flight, and while leaving the airport.
  • Must adhere to physical distancing.
  • Entitled to only one carry-on.
  • Passengers showing symptoms of coronavirus will not be allowed to board their flights.

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