After closing its airspace for over three months, Senegal began operating regular international flights on July 15, as the European Union would now welcome Senegalese nationals into the Schengen area.As announced on June 29 by President Macky Sall, Senegalese airspace reopened this Wednesday for regular international flights. The airports were not totally closed as special flights continued to land and take off.
However, at Blaise Diagne International Airport (AIBD), the country’s largest, it was not the atmosphere of the big days on July 15. Some flights are marked on the screens in the hall to keep the progressive character of the recovery. Arrivals and departures for this first day concern Air Algeria, Air France, Air Senegal, TRANSAIR, Air Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopian Airlines and IBERIA.
But already, the Senegalese Ministry of Tourism and Air Transport has put in place a health protocol. In the context of Covid-19, airlines must have a flight schedule duly approved by the Civil Aviation Authority and a punctual authorization delivered by the latter to carry out a flight or a series of flights to Senegal.
They must also ensure, for passengers in transit, that the country of departure meets the conditions required by the country of destination and fill in the aircraft disinfection sheet against Covid-19.
EU restrictions lifted
On Wednesday morning, the Director of Public Health, Marie Khémesse Ngom Ndiaye, was at the AIBD to inspect the resumption scheme. While there, she announced that the European Union’s restrictions on Senegal would be lifted.
“Our diplomacy played a very important role. This has yet to be officially verified but the European Union’s restrictions have been lifted for Senegal.” she told IRadio (private).
Dakar, like Libreville, had decided in early July to apply reciprocity to the EU after it chose to admit only four African countries (Algeria, Morocco, Rwanda and Tunisia) to travel in the Schengen area.
According to Brussels, this move was motivated by epidemiological criteria. At the same time, the EU ambassador in Dakar, Irene Mingasson, had specified in the Senegalese press that Dakar “is not concerned by this new situation.”
The matter subsequently prompted a meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs where “the discussions which took place in a cordial atmosphere showed a real willingness on the part of all parties to find a solution,” according a Tourism and Air Transport Ministry statement.
All in all, the diplomatic dispute is about to be buried between Dakar and Brussels. Especially since Senegal, which has lifted the state of health emergency since June 29, would be among the best students in Africa in the management of the new coronavirus results wise. To date, it has recorded 8369 cases, including 153 deaths, 5605 recoveries as 2610 patients are under treatment.
“We are not resting on our laurels, but Senegal is managing this pandemic as adequately as possible,” Marie Khémesse Ngom Ndiaye said.