‘A complete lack of Covid-19 measures’ at an airport on the paradise archipelago of Zanzibar has left a hygiene audit team shocked.
Respected UK-based air transport rating agency Skytrax said that Abeid Amani Karume International Airport was ‘failing on Covid-19 safety protocols’ after it assessed measures and standards at the airport earlier this month.
It claimed that face mask usage in public areas of the airport was ‘disappointing’, there was no encouragement of social distancing in seating areas and that terminals’ cleanliness was ‘unsatisfactory’. A Skytrax source said it was ‘the worst to be rated’ and given a two-star ‘Covid-19 Airport Safety Rating’ – the lowest handed out so far.
Skytrax said that Abeid Amani Karume International Airport was ‘failing on Covid-19 safety protocols’. In this image taken by its audit team, there isn’t a face mask in sight
The airport has been given a two-star ‘Covid-19 Airport Safety Rating’ – the lowest handed out so far by Skytrax. Pictured is congestion at the queue for immigration
A picture taken by the Skytrax team showing the queue to enter the airport. Skytrax said Abeid Amani Karume International is the worst airport to be rated so far
Zanzibar, pictured, is the No1 place Britons are dreaming of visiting, according to a recent study
The findings are all the more shocking given Zanzibar’s status as an exotic holiday-of-a-lifetime destination. Just last week Zanzibar was named as the No1 place that Britons are dreaming of visiting once lockdown ends.
In the Skytrax audit of Abeid Amani Karume International, it ‘used procedural efficiency checks, visual observation analysis and cleanliness checks using ATP tests [surface cleanliness analysis]’ and said the consistency of standards was a ‘key determinant in the final rating’.
The ratings agency claimed that throughout the airport ‘there are no information guidelines reflecting Covid-19 safe behaviour such as mask use or hand hygiene reminders’.
It added: ‘There are a few legacy physical distancing markers, and those in place are faded and damaged, and there is no encouragement for social distancing in the seating areas. The volume of passengers during the audit inspections meant that distancing is impossible.’
Skytrax did point out that customer temperatures are checked on arrival and said this ‘represents the only monitoring and consistently applied policy for Covid-19 at Abeid Amani Karume International Airport’.
When it came to the use of face masks, Skytrax said it is not enforced among passengers and ‘while many airport staff wear face masks, the level of compliance is much weaker than one observes in other global regions’.
It also explained: ‘If you do not have appropriate PPE with you, there is nowhere to buy such items in the terminal.’
In terms of hand sanitiser provision, Skytrax said there were a few places where it was offered inside the terminal but added that the ‘locations, quality and visibility of the product is so much poorer than we would expect to find in a busy international airport during the pandemic’.
Skytrax described the cleanliness of the airport terminal as ‘unsatisfactory’ and said the overall condition of the terminal was ‘very weak’
Skytrax said there were a few places where hand sanitiser was offered inside the terminal but added that the ‘locations, quality and visibility of the product is so much poorer than we would expect to find in a busy international airport during the pandemic’
It continued: ‘The airport terminal cleanliness is unsatisfactory, and maintenance staff are not seen. Aside from the lack of sanitisation facilities, the overall condition of the terminal is very weak.
‘The two-star Covid-19 Airport Safety Rating is the lowest possible classification used and indicates a poor standard of airport cleanliness and/or Covid-19 safety protocols.
‘The two-star rating indicates that an airport, cleaning and hygiene protocols are not meeting the required minimum standard of Covid-19 safety. Two-star rated airports might offer fair visual cleanliness and presentation, but the standards of disinfection, hygiene measures and safety protocols are poor.’
In June last year, John Magufuli, the president of Tanzania, where Zanzibar is located, declared the country ‘coronavirus-free’ although there has been no official data on infections since April 29, 2020.
Edward Plaisted of Skytrax said: ‘We are shocked by the poor health and safety standards at Abeid Amani Karume International Airport, which appear to reflect Tanzania’s denial of Covid-19.
‘New cases of the South African virus variant were confirmed in two travellers flying into Denmark on January 19 from Tanzania (Denmark Statens Serum Institut). Skytrax’s Covid-19 Safety Audit was carried out three days later, which confirmed a complete lack of Covid-19 measures.
Edward Plaisted of Skytrax said: ‘We are shocked by the poor health and safety standards at Abeid Amani Karume International Airport’
‘Our audit teams have conducted Covid-19 audits at airports in most parts of the world during the past eight months, and this airport is worse than we could have ever imagined for its complete lack of Covid-19 safety protocols.
‘We highlight to any travellers considering to visit Zanzibar that in the current global pandemic this is a potentially dangerous airport to travel through.’
We highlight to any travellers considering to visit Zanzibar that in the current global pandemic this is a potentially dangerous airport to travel through
Edward Plaisted, Skytrax
Assessments by Skytrax of Covid-19 safety measures adopted by airlines and in airports around the globe are ongoing.
So far, it has inspected 48 airports across the world with Rome Fiumicino the first to be awarded the maximum of five stars. Others to be awarded five stars include Istanbul Airport and Bogota El Dorado Airport in Colombia.
It was revealed last week that Edinburgh Airport had become the first in the UK to be awarded a four-star Covid-19 Airport Safety Rating. By comparison, Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Manchester airports all have a three-star rating.
Skytrax has also assessed 20 airlines, with Qatar Airways and Latvian carrier airBaltic receiving a maximum five-star rating. Those that have gained a four-star rating include British Airways, easyJet, Emirates, Lufthansa, Ryanair, KLM and Air France.
MailOnline Travel has asked the Zanzibar Airports Authority for comment.