The General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA), and in cooperation with the Ministry of Health, has taken many health and preventive measures, during the stages to which arriving passengers will be subjected to, in their repatriation flights to the Kingdom. This goes on from their time of arrival at the Kingdom’s international airports (King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, King Abdul Aziz International Airport in Jeddah, and King Fahd International Airport in Dammam) and until they board buses assigned to them.
The measures were taken by the participating government agencies (the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Tourism, and GACA) to prevent the spread of the Novel Coronavirus during flights intended to repatriate citizens wishing to return to the Kingdom. The steps taken include (12) stages to be applied, once the repatriated citizens arrive at the airport of the country of departure and until their arrival at the Kingdom’s airports (Riyadh, Jeddah, and Dammam) and until exiting the airport. A medical examination of passengers at the airport of the country of departure is carried out in the first stage, before they board the plane in which the seating arrangements take social distancing into account to ensure that there are enough spaces between the passengers. Upon arriving at the Kingdom’s airports, passengers get off the plane in a controlled way to maintain a safe distance between the passengers. Furthermore, priority is given to the process their luggage off the plane to ensure that passengers do not wait for a long time in the baggage claim area. GACA has also provided a sterilization area through which sterilizers and masks are provided to passengers at the gates, while ensuring that all passengers are properly sanitizing their hands and wearing masks in the correct manner until all procedures are completed.
It is worth noting, that the Ministry of Health has allocated a checkpoint through which all arriving passengers pass through mandatory thermal cameras area to ensure the safety of passengers. All passengers and flight crew are subjected to a preliminary medical examination by a specialized medical team to determine the needs of any passengers for an advanced medical isolation. On suspicion of a suspected case between passengers, the passenger is isolated from the rest of the passengers and a safe path is activated to transfer the case. Meanwhile, passengers are required to sterilize their hands before entry into the passport control and fingerprint. The passport procedures are cleared while maintaining a safe distance between the passengers, while in the customs inspection area, the hand luggage will be inspected with a safe distance between all passengers. In the event of a secondary inspection of the luggage, a distance of at least (1.5 m) is kept between the customs officer and the passenger.
Ground services providers will also provide assistance to passengers in the baggage handling area. Meanwhile, passengers passing through the final gate in the customs inspection area will go through without change in the procedures, all while maintaining a safe distance between each other. Passengers will be sorted during the last stage, while exiting will be met by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Tourism on paths according to their destinations. Passengers will then be guided to place their luggage in the luggage cart and board the buses assigned to them from the transport fleet of the Ministry of Education. This is in addition to securing the area and isolating it by airport authorities.
It is worth noting, that GACA has harnessed all its capabilities and taken all the necessary measures and procedures to serve citizens abroad who wished to return to the Kingdom, in compliance with the directives of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister Defense. Furthermore, GACA and in cooperation with the relevant government agencies, has also scheduled the repatriation flights and distributed flight times, in coordination with the national carrier, Saudi Arabian Airlines. This is in addition to preparing a joint operations command post in the three international airports with the participation of a number of relevant authorities with the aim of coordination amongst the government agencies concerned and uniting efforts to receive the repatriated citizens to the Kingdom.