Air France South Africa
(Photo by AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
  • Air France has resumed its flights to Johannesburg and Cape Town, after grounding its South African operations for more than a week.
  • Before boarding a plane to Paris, passengers will need to provide a “compelling reason to travel”.
  • And even with a valid reason, travellers, regardless of their vaccination status, will have to endure 10 days in quarantine.
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Air France has resumed its South African flight schedule, but passengers will need to provide a “compelling reason to travel” and endure 10 days in quarantine.

Direct flights between Paris and Johannesburg resumed on Saturday, following a 9-day suspension in the wake of the Omicron Covid-19 variant discovery. France, along with the United Kingdom (UK), Germany, and most European nations, imposed a swift ban on flights departing South Africa and neighbouring countries.

While flights to and from these countries have resumed, restrictions on travellers from South Africa – in the form of mandatory quarantine requirements and exemptions only offered to returning residents – have been slammed by President Cyril Ramaphosa and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Renewed restrictions imposed by the French government come as a particularly significant blow to the resumption of international travel.

France was one of the first European countries to allow fully vaccinated South Africans to enter without enduring a mandatory quarantine period. This was at a time, in July, when most of the world was still shuttered to South African visitors due to ongoing fears around the Beta variant.

South Africa is now categorised as a “Scarlet Red Zone” country, France’s most severe high-risk rating with the toughest travel restrictions. South Africa is joined by Botswana, Eswatini, Mauritius, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Travellers from a “Scarlet Red Zone” country, regardless of their vaccination status, need to provide “compelling reason to travel”. The French, their spouses and children, and nationals of the European Union (EU) as well as their spouses are eligible to enter France.

Other exemptions apply to travellers who hold a long-stay visa issued for the purpose of family reunion or reunification of refugee families, beneficiaries of subsidiary protection, and stateless persons.

Work in the land, sea, and air transport sector is also regarded as a compelling reason. The same applies to those on duty with a diplomatic mission or an international organisation with headquarters or offices in France.

These travellers will need to provide a negative Covid-19 PCR test result prior to boarding and again on arrival in France. They’ll also be required to spend 10 days in quarantine.

Passengers travelling from France to South Africa will also need to provide a compelling reason. The list of eligible reasons from travel outside of France does not include non-essential movement like a holiday abroad.

Air France will operate daily flights between Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport and Johannesburg’s OR Tambo. Flights to Cape Town restarted on Monday, with outbound travel to Paris on Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday.

(Compiled by Luke Daniel)

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