COVID-19: Saudi Arabia sets rules for air travellers

Cairo: Saudi civil aviation authorities have directed all airlines operating in the country to limit the issuance of boarding passes to travellers who are immunised or have not been infected by COVID-19, local media reported.

To determine the traveller’s health condition, the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) has requested in a circular the airline companies and the Saudi Data and Artificial Authority (SDAIA) to urgently link data of flights to the COVID-19 smartphone app “Tawakkalna”. The GACA said that “Tawakklana” is mandatory for entering airports and boarding flights in the kingdom.

Travellers do not have to show documents to prove their health situation as the app is used to prove that the passenger is free of coronavirus.

Cancelling bookings

The GACA has also asked the competent agencies to ensure that the new system would send text messages to travellers to inform them of cancelling their bookings should their health condition is different from the required health eligibility for boarding flights. The GACA has stressed the importance of preserving rights of travellers whose bookings are cancelled.

Saudi Arabia plans full resumption of international flights next month after a suspension of more than a year as part of the pandemic-controlled restrictions.

Last September, authorities announced partial lifting of the suspension, allowing certain categories of Saudi nationals and foreigners to travel abroad.

However, the full resumption of international travel will not include 20 countries with which the kingdom suspended flights last February. Saudi citizens, diplomats, health workers and their families are exempted from the ban.

The Saudi national carrier, Saudia, has said that a halt to international flights will be lifted as of 1am on May 17, but will not apply to the countries with which travel is banned by a state committee tasked with tackling COVID-19 due to the outbreak of the virus.

Ban list

The 20 countries on the ban list are Argentina, the UAE, France, Germany, the US, Indonesia, India, Japan, Ireland, Italy, Pakistan, Brazil, Portugal, the UK, Turkey, South Africa, Sweden, the Swiss Confederation, Lebanon, and Egypt.

The ban also includes arrivals from other countries who have transited any of the 20 countries during the 14 days prior to applying to enter Saudi Arabia.

The kingdom initiated mass vaccinations against COVID-19 in December. Nearly 8 million doses have since been administered.



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