SAA grounds international flights, regional situation unclear

South African Airways (SAA) is immediately suspending all regional and international flights until the end of May due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

UPDATE: A new statement from SAA, which has caused some confusion, notes that regional flights will still operate.

1b37c9bc screenshot 2020 03 20 at 13.09.58 - SAA grounds international flights, regional situation unclear

According to eNCA, this means SAA will only render services domestically between Johannesburg and Cape Town.

SAA: Citizens from high-risk countries not allowed to enter 

South Africa has issued a travel ban on people from high-risk countries affected by the coronavirus.

The ban has been issued to foreign nationals from Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Germany, the United States (US), the United Kingdom (UK) and China.

“Disembarkation of foreign nationals from high-risk countries is suspended at airports upon arrival,” said SAA acting CEO Zuks Ramasia.

“Embarkation and disembarkation is permissible under the following circumstances: Disembarkation of returning South African citizens and permanent residents; embarkation of departing foreign nationals, disembarkation of a declared medical emergency foreign nationals must be approved by port health services; upon landing, crew from high-risk countries shall be subject to medical screening and quarantined for 21 days,” he said. 

“In support of efforts by the government in dealing with this pandemic, and in the best interests of our crew, passengers and the public, we have decided to suspend all international and regional flights until 31 May 2020. It is a responsibility of all of us and not just government to curb further transmission of the virus. Especially because we operate in the high-risk regions,” he added. 

It will allow one free change on SAA-operated flights, with assistance being provided to all ticketed passengers holding a South African Airways ticket only.

“It is a responsibility of all of us and not just government to curb further transmission of the virus. Especially because we operate in the high-risk regions,” said Ramasia.

More than 160 flights cancelled on Wednesday 

SAA cancelled 162 flights for the period of 17 March until 31 March due to the coronavirus outbreak. Of these, 38 are international and 124 are regional (destinations on the African continent) flights. 

According to a statement released on Wednesday 18 March, the effects of the outbreak of coronavirus have led to travel disruptions and restrictions across the world, leading to the grounding of aircraft, releasing of employees and the cancellation of flights for many airlines. 

“SAA is not immune to these realities,” it said.  

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