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New Covid Variant Puts SA On The ‘No-Fly’ List

Editor's Note: This article was updated on 5 February to include Air France and KLM's latest flight information. 

South Africa’s Second Wave of the Coronavirus – marked by the prevalence of a new, potentially more infectious Covid-19 variant – has led governments in various countries around the world to impose restrictions or all-out bans on travel to and from South Africa.

Currently (as of 27 January 2021), these airlines have suspended international flights to South Africa:

Etihad Airways pulled out of South Africa in late 2020, saying it would resume flights in March 2021. But, with the new Covid-19 variant, it’s uncertain whether Etihad will return to South Africa considering that the airline has terminated staff contracts and closed its South African office.

British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Emirates Airlines, Austrian Airlines, Air Seychelles and Edelweiss Air are among the international airlines that have stopped flying to South Africa for now. Their reasons range from government directives to a drop in demand. 

US carriers Delta Airlines and United Airlines indicated they would resume flights to South Africa post-pandemic. United Airlines initially suggested it would restart direct flights to Johannesburg in March 2021, but with newly-inaugurated US President Joe Biden imposing travel restrictions to and from South Africa on 26 January, it’s uncertain whether United will resume flights in March. 

Qantas, Cathay Pacific, Air Austral, Air Mauritius and Air Namibia have also suspended flights in and out of South Africa for several months, with no indication as to when services will resume.

Which Airlines Are Flying In/Out of SA?

Thankfully, there are still several international airlines operating in South Africa. At the time of writing, these carriers include: Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa, Swiss International Airlines, Air France, EgyptAir, Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways, RwandAir and Turkish Airlines (limited service). 

The French government issued new travel regulations on 29 January, but Air France has confirmed its South African flights are unaffected and are operating as scheduled.

KLM is currently only accepting passengers southbound, from Amsterdam to Cape Town and Johannesburg. Northbound flights from South Africa to Amsterdam are scheduled to resume on 22 February.

Meanwhile, regional airline operators have either cancelled or reduced frequencies to/from South Africa. 

ProFlight Zambia has dropped Durban from its network, but still operates flights between Johannesburg and Lusaka, Ndola and Solwezi. Nigerian Air Peace currently operates two weekly direct flights between Johannesburg and Lagos, while Mozambican carrier Linhas Areas de Mozambique (LAM) is operating a limited schedule to Johannesburg. 

Passengers needing to travel to Zimbabwe currently have one option: Fastjet, which operates from Johannesburg to Bulawayo and Harare. 

Local Airlines And Airports Open For Business

On the domestic front, several airlines are operating routes throughout South Africa, including Mango Airlines, Airlink, BA Comair, Flysafair and Kulula.com. However, routes and frequencies have been reduced. 

Meanwhile, newly launched LIFT Airlines has recently introduced a Johannesburg-Cape Town service. 

Airports operating include:

* O.R. Tambo International Airport
* Cape Town International Airport
* King Shaka International Airport
* Bram Fischer International Airport
* East London Airport
* George Airport
* Kimberley Airport
* Port Elizabeth International Airport
* Upington International Airport

Don’t Chance It; Get Expert Advice

Need more info on which airlines are operating out of which local, regional or international airports? Now more than ever you need the help of an expert Sure Travel Consultant to book your flight and provide you with the best advice to safeguard your travel plans in this ever-changing environment. Find your nearest Sure Travel Agent here, or call 0861 47 48 49  / email tickets@suretravel.co.za for expert advice and assistance.

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