NATIONAL carrier Air Tanzania Company Limited (ATCL) is set to fly to China’s Guangzhou twice a month starting this Saturday, while maintaining flights to Mumbai, India despite escalating Covid-19 cases.
Earlier, ATCL planned to fly to Guangzhou in March but cancelled the plans in wake of the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
ATCL Managing Director and CEO Eng Ladislaus Matindi said they were forced to postpone China’s flights after authorities in Guangzhou said they were not capacitated to carry out Covid-19 protocols to a large number of incoming passengers.
“Air Tanzania has been granted permission by authorities in China to land at Guangzhou,” Eng Matindi told reporters yesterday.
The almost ten-hour flight will depart at the early hours of Saturday and the return leg just two hours after landing in Guangzhou— the busiest city that facilitates most trading between China and Africa traders.
Also, Eng Mtindi said the flight’s launching was rescheduled after Chinese citizens and travellers with special duties are allowed to travel to China, where special emphasis has been laid on observation of Covid-19 protocols.
“All passengers will be tested three times before seeking a visa, and subsequently purchase a ticket for boarding,” he added.
China authorities recognise Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test and Immunoglobulin M (IgM) test for Covid-19. Those found positive will not be allowed to travel either way.
Meanwhile, Air Tanzania has no plans to cancel Mumbai’s twice a week flights, but will deploy strict coronavirus control measures. “So far we haven’t received any government directives to suspend the India route,” Eng Matindi said when answering a question from the ‘Daily News’.
He, however, said all measures of preventing spreading infection to passengers before they board and after landing are seriously taken on board. India recorded 368,147 new Covid-19 cases and 3,417 coronavirus- related deaths in a 24-hour period yesterday.
A number of countries have imposed heavily restricting travel between them and India.
Those countries include Nigeria, UK, Canada, New Zealand, US and UAE. Several airlines have also added India to a “red list” of countries from which travels have been restrained over fears of a new Covid variant. These include Kenya Airways, Proflight Zambia and RwandaAir.
Late last month, The UAE imposed a 10-day ban on all travellers from India entering the Arab Kingdom.
The decision had a huge impact on UAE aviation, since the route, with direct 62 flights, was the world’s busiest international route last winter. However, not all airlines have stopped flying to India.
China’s Sichuan Airlines last week resumed cargo flights to India amid Covid-19 scare. Health officials say this new variant, first identified in India, has some worrying genetic changes that need exploring.