Passenger safety top priority ahead of airport reopening in Oman

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Muscat: The safety of passengers and employees is the top priority at airports across Oman, ahead of preparations to reopen them to the public.

With the aviation sector being among the most affected by the pandemic, the Supreme Committee has drawn up plans to reduce the chances of infection among people at airports, so that flights can operate safely.

The Royal Oman Police (ROP), represented by security teams at the airports, is working in tandem with airline operators in the country to create an environment that ensures people coming here remain safe.

Speaking on Oman Radio, Major Khaled Al Battashi of the ROP said that in terms of preparations being made at airports in the country, “The work conducted by the Directorate General for Airport Security requires a balance between creating an environment that is safe for employees, as well as ensuring proper security measures in place.”

“Because this requires direct contact between policemen and those present at the airports, it is important to take necessary measures to maintain employee safety according to the guidelines issued by the International Civil Aviation Organisation, and Oman’s Civil Aviation Authority,” he said.

“We coordinated with the Directorate General of Health Services to have specialised medical teams give lectures about the health protocols that must be followed in the upcoming period, as to how employees have to perform their tasks with the current security measures in place.”

Senior health and safety officials also made continuous visits to airports to ensure their employees were safe during this period, with the DG for Airport Security also making it clear the level of fitness that employees need to have at a time like this, so that they may perform their duties unimpeded, and to ensure airports continue to function according to international specifications.

Ever since the decision by the Supreme Committee was made to temporarily close airports to all commercial flights, with the exception of cargo planes, as well as scheduled flights to Oman’s northern Governorate of Musandam, air operators in Oman have organised special or chartered flights to transport people to and from the country.

“A centre to allow for the transportation of these people, as well as follow-up measures to check their health, is ongoing during this period,” explained Major Al Battashi.

“There are also follow-up procedures carried out by Oman Airports, regarding keeping security areas sterile, and the disinfection of all items used by passengers. There were also teams formed by the Civil Aviation Authority tasked with monitoring the ongoing condition of the civil aviation sector,” he added.

“Regular evaluations of the conditions of flights and airports are also conducted, and meetings are held to make sure the sector is ready to operate in future,” he said.

“The need for all airport workers to adhere to the security protocols has been emphasised, and we have set up about 14,000 posters highlighting the process of social distancing between passengers. There is continuous sterilisation of the items used by them, as well as regular checks to ensure all visitors to the airports follow the required health procedures.”

Among the precautions put in place at the airports are barriers put up to maintain social distancing in areas such as the ticket counters, passport and immigration zone, and visa cancellation area, to name a few. Stickers are also put up at regular intervals, reminding people of the need to socially distance, while there are staff members assigned to check the temperatures of all those who enter the premises.

An internal team has been set up to ensure all staff at Oman’s airports follow the health precautions needed.

“The best way to overcome this pandemic has been to increase awareness among citizens and residents in this country,” said Al Battashi. “One of the main challenges we have is restoring confidence in the aviation sector. Please note that anyone who does not comply with the safety instructions issued will not be allowed to entire the airport.

“All those who wish to enter the airports in the country must wear masks, ensure their temperatures do not exceed 38 degrees, and make sure they are not supposed to be in quarantine at that time,” he added.

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