Dubai-based Emirates is cancelling its flight to Durban and is also cancelling, with immediate effect, its other just-resumed flights to and from Johannesburg and Cape Town.
According to a report from news agency AFP out of Dubai, and carried by local broadcaster eNCA on Saturday afternoon, this is due to regulations announced this week that treat airline crew the same as passengers in relation to health regulations and entry requirements.
The AFP report says that other international airlines have also cancelled all their inbound and outbound flights from Durban. Flights to and from Johannesburg and Cape Town are also expected to be cancelled, it adds.
DETAILS OF CANCELLATION STILL SKETCHY
At the time of writing, details remain sketchy, with no announcement on the Emirates website or via the airline’s Media Centre, other than previous statements that flights to South Africa have resumed.
There appears to have been no announcements by other airlines to this effect, either.
But Carla da Silva, Chairperson at the Board of Airline Representatives of South Africa, told eNCA in an interview that the organisation was aware of the problem and had escalated the matter to the Department of Transport and the necessary stakeholders, with the request that they urgently review that matter, as the crew requirements were not practical.
CREW ALREADY IN VIRUS TEST CYCLES
She said all airline crews were already subjected to the necessary testing and test cycles. They were also already in quarantine and in a safe bubble environment.
“Unfortunately that element was overlooked. They haven’t been able to distinguish between passengers and crew. Crew are really essential services,” she said.
Da Silva added that the government and Civil Aviation Authority were urgently looking into the matter.
In its most recent press statement, issued on 24 September, Emirates announced it would resume flights to Johannesburg on 1 October, to Cape Town on 1 October and to Durban on 4 October.
GLOBAL CONNECTIONS FOR SA TRAVELLERS
“Customers flying in and out of Emirates’ three South African gateways can safely connect to Dubai and to an array of onwards connections to Europe, the Far East, Middle East, West Asia and Australasia,” the press statement said.
At Cape Town International Airport on Thursday there were cheers and flag-waving just after 1pm as the first Emirates flight to land in the city since lockdown arrived. It was followed shortly afterwards by an Ethiopian Airlines flight.
Other returning airlines include Lufthansa, Air France, KLM and Swiss International Airlines.