Scores of international airlines pull out of SA but these ones are still flying

Though growing numbers of international airlines are giving South Africa a wide berth, there are still numerous flights operating here.

Scores of international airlines pull out of SA but these ones are still flying

The Coronavirus pandemic is wreaking havoc on the aviation sector, with many of the world’s airlines suspending international flights to destinations including South Africa.

Several major international airlines have suspended scheduled flights to South Africa over the last few months. Whether these route suspensions will be permanent or temporary remains to be seen.

Etihad Airways halted its flights to Johannesburg in 2020, stating that the airline would return to the country in March 2021. It remains to be seen whether Etihad will indeed return to South Africa given that it also terminated staff contracts and closed its South African office.

IMPACT OF NEW COVID-19 VARIANT

More recently, several other airlines have been forced to cut flights to South Africa due to government regulations. The prevalence of the highly infectious new COVID-19 variant in South Africa has forced governments in various countries to impose travel bans and flight bans again.

This has led to several airlines temporarily halting their operations to South Africa.

Turkish Airlines, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Emirates Airlines, Austrian Airlines, Air Seychelles and Edelweiss Air are among the carriers that have stopped flying to South Africa temporarily, whether due to government directives, a slump in demand from passengers or operational reasons.

LONG ABSENCE BY SOME AIRLINES

United Airlines expects to restart direct flights to Johannesburg in March. Image: Adobe Stock

Australia’s Qantas, Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific, Air Austral from the Indian Ocean island of Reunion, Air Mauritius and Air Namibia have also become strangers to our skies, having not touched down in South Africa for several months.

US carriers Delta Airlines and United Airlines operated direct flights between South Africa and the United States prior to the pandemic. Both airlines have pushed back the restart dates of their South African routes several times due to COVID-19. 

United Airlines expects to restart direct flights to Johannesburg in March.

INTERNATIONAL AIRLINES FLYING TO SA

Several carriers have stood by their passengers and continue to operate flights to destinations outside of our borders despite the difficult conditions many airlines are facing at this point in time.

Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa, Swiss International Airlines, Air France, Egyptair, Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways and Rwandair continue to operate flights to and from South Africa, enabling South Africans to reach various destinations in their flight networks.

REGIONAL ROUTES IN OPERATION

Several African carriers are now operating flights to South Africa, even though the frequency of flights may be limited to one a day or one a week in certain cases.  

Proflight Zambia, having dropped Durban from its network, still operates flights between Johannesburg and Lusaka, Ndola and Solwezi. Air Peace operates two weekly direct flights between Johannesburg and Lagos.

Mozambican carrier Linhas Areas de Mozambique (LAM) is operating a limited schedule to Johannesburg. Passengers needing to travel to Bulawayo and Harare can fly directly with Fastjet from Johannesburg.   

NEW ROUTES FOR REGIONAL CARRIERS

Airlink has picked up several new regional and domestic routes which were previously operated by South African Airways and the local British Airways franchise (Comair).  Namibia’s Westair is now operating flights between Johannesburg and Cape Town and Windhoek.

Privately owned South African airline Cemair operates scheduled services to several destinations both inside and outside of South Africa. Cemair’s regional destinations include Lusaka, Luanda and Ndola. 

ALSO READ: Increasing number of airlines now require COVID-19 PCR tests

Source : The South African More