Air Travel South Africa Level 1
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  • South Africa’s move to Alert Level 1 lockdown tightens catering regulations aboard domestic airlines.
  • Passengers will not be allowed to eat while onboard and catering is strictly limited to bottled water.
  • In-flight magazines will also need to be dumped after every trip unless already removed by passengers.
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In line with new Alert Level 1 regulations, domestic airlines operating in South Africa are only permitted to serve bottled water and passengers won’t be allowed to eat while onboard. Unclaimed in-flight magazines will also need to be disposed of after each trip.

South Africa’s move to a lighter level of lockdown comes amid a decline in Covid-19 cases and the active rollout of vaccines to healthcare workers. The move was confirmed by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday night, shortening the hours of curfew, allowing off-site liquor trading to continue as normal and revising the limitations on social gatherings.

No direct changes were made to road-based travel regulations, with the 20 land borders that had been reopened on 15 February remaining unrestricted. Similarly, Covid-19 screening and testing protocols applicable to cross-border commuters remain unchanged and capacity limitations on public transport services remain limited to 70% for long distance journeys.

The change to Alert Level 1 has, however, brought with it a host of amendments to air travel in South Africa. Previously, only three airports – namely, O.R Tambo in Johannesburg, King Shaka in Durban and Cape Town International – were permitted to accept international flights.

Newly gazetted Disaster Management Act regulations, signed by the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, allow for international air travel to and from Lanseria and Kruger Mpumalanga International Airports.

The changes, as promulgated by Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula, also regulate the in-flight operations of all domestic airlines. Domestic operators, like FlySafair,, British Airways (through Comair), Mango, Lift, Cemair and others are now subjected to the following rules:

  • The only consumable offered by on-board catering is limited to bottled water (no food, snacks, or other beverages may be served).
  • Passengers are not allowed to eat while aboard a domestic flight (even if they bring their own foodstuffs onboard).
  • Complimentary in-flight magazines may not be shared among passengers and must be disposed of after each flight (if not taken off the plane by a passenger).

“An Operator conducting an international flight is allowed to provide catering onboard the aircraft, provided that they take all risk mitigation, health and safety measures to contain the spread of Covid-19 including the provision of pre-packed meals,” notes the gazette signed by Mbalula.

The air travel regulations also reiterate the curfew reprieves offered to international travellers who arrive or depart from South Africa between midnight and 04:00. Long-haul flights are permitted to operate during curfew but passengers aboard these flights need “to present evidence of a flight ticket when stopped by law enforcement officers during curfew hours”.

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