A day after Emirates announced the resumption of international flights to South Africa, it rescinded the decision on Saturday.
In a statement, the airline said that following new COGTA regulations announced by South Africa, it has cancelled all its international flights to South Africa.
Besides Emirates, other international airlines have also cancelled flights – inbound and outbound – with immediate effect to several parts of South Africa.
COGTA rules announced by Minister of COGTA, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma are subjecting international airlines crew to the same COVID-19 regulations as passengers, a move that has not sat very well with them.
“A Foreign Operator (meaning an airline) is required to submit procedures that show the level of compliance with South African COVID-19 legislation for approval to the South African Civil Aviation Authority,” part of the statement read.
It added: “Crew members are required to wear face masks at all times, except when conducting a safety briefing and during an emergency.
“Crew members shall upon arrival in South Africa be subjected to health protocols as contemplated for in Health Directions.
Emirates had resumed flights on October 1 to several places in South Africa including Durban and Johannesburg.
With COGTA regulations, it is likely that travel from Johannesburg to Cape Town could be grounded.
In the new rules, It added: “Passengers are required to wear face masks at all times and may only remove face masks during emergencies or when instructed by cabin crew to take them off, and must observe social distancing, ensure handwashing, and sanitize regularly.”
Passengers flying into or transiting through South Africa must provide a negative PCR-based COVID-19 test done at least 72 hours before arrival
Failure to provide this, they will not be allowed into South Africa.
Those who exhibit COVID-19 symptoms upon arrival or during the flight will “Be taken through primary and secondary screening, including COVID-19 testing, where applicable; Be quarantined, at own cost, if a positive test result is obtained.”
Emirates cancellation of international flights to South Africa is likely to adversely affect an already ailing tourism sector due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
South Africa is among African countries hardest-hit by the pandemic followed by Nigeria.