Gov’t bans international flights
By Manyuon Mayen Manyuon
The government yesterday issued an order banning international flights from landing in the country until further notice as the country prepares for possible coronavirus outbreak.
Kur Kuol Ajieu, Director of Juba International Airport told Juba Monitor yesterday that the Airport Management was implementing the order by the government to lockdown the airport given the deteriorating situation of COVID-19 in the neighboring countries.
A few days ago, government suspended FLY Dubai and Egyptian Air over efforts to curb the escalation of the deadly virus from reaching to South Sudan.
Last Tuesday, the Ministry of Health said that the Ethiopian and Kenyan flights were to be shutdown if the situation of COVID- 19 continues.
But, Kuol figured out yesterday that the effort was inline with the country’s preparedness towards responding to the pandemic since the country is still virus-free.
“The order came out last night banning all the international flights. Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia. So no international flights will fly in and out of Juba as from today (Tuesday) onwards until the situation is contained,” he narrated.
The Director revealed that any plane that might be set to Juba amid the restriction by any country will be forced back before landing by the Control Tower.
“Our Control Tower is very vigilant monitoring any plane coming from outside the country. And if any, it will be rejected from landing before any penalty is imposed. We cannot allow any, it will be immediately returned back to its point of origin should such case happen,” he said.
According to Mr. Kuol, the cargos were given priority to land at the airport but with restrictive measures of abiding to the set guidelines till the cargo get removed.
“Cargo flights cannot be banned because they normally bring in goods or consignment. But the pilots are asked to always remain in the planes until the cargo is taken. Afterward, they will be asked to leave the airport immediately,” he revealed.
Kuol pointed out that the cargos’ pilots were banned from carrying unnecessary passenger to the country.
“The pilot cannot bring anybody unless assistant pilot or engineer. Perhaps, they will not go down on the plane. So afterward, they will be told to leave if the cargo is offloaded,” he said.
Kuol also said that the domestic flights will remain operational but with passengers adhering to the Airport set regulations to magnify COVID-19.
“Actually, since the domestic flights with the country are still operating, the people should follow the measures that we have. The people who will be coming from the States have to be screened properly,” he said.
Kuol said there was going to be no exemption for those who refuse to be screened after coming from the States within the country.
Airport authorities also cited that the countries which were willing to evacuate their nationals were not barred but should bring the empty plane with pilots for evacuation.
“We have not banned those who can evaluate their nationals from South Sudan. But the plane must come empty and when the plane arrives, the pilot will remain indoors and their nationals just join them and they go immediately,” Kuol stated.
Juba International Airport authorities have also prohibited the roaming of any allowed cargo pilots in the airport after landing.
UN flights were first to be banned with Egypt and Fly Dubai respectively about 10 days ago.
The Airport Director lamented that the rotation of the UN flights from other countries will be accepted in Juba if they are evacuating some of their staff needed for any emergency.