LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 13: Emirates airline Boe
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 13: Emirates airline Boeing 777-31H(ER) takes off from Los Angeles international Airport on January 13, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
  • Emirates will restart passenger flights from Dubai to Johannesburg on Thursday.
  • But South Africans will still not be allowed to board outbound flights as the United Arab Emirates’ travel ban stays in place until at least 20 March.
  • This also applies to its Nigerian operations, with limitations on flights between Abuja and Lagos.
  • The airline’s cargo operations will continue as normal.
  • For more articles, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

Emirates will resume its inbound flights to South Africa on Thursday but will only be operating cargo trips out of the country until at least 20 March 2021. The United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) flag carrier initially suspended all passenger operations to and from South Africa in mid-January.

Although the global Covid-19 vaccine rollout is gaining momentum, strict travel restrictions and border closures persist. For almost a year, South Africans’ international travel plans have been placed on hold, with the second wave of infections recorded in December and January – driven primarily by the new 501Y.V2 variant – undoing earlier reprieves.

The UAE is one of dozens of countries which revoked access to visitors who had travelled from or through South Africa, as a result of the discovery of new Covid-19 variants. Most international airlines have followed suit, suspending South African routes until their respective country’s ease travel restrictions.

Emirates will, however, after three months of dormancy, return to South Africa with passengers from abroad. South Africans hoping to travel internationally with the airline will need to wait until at least 20 March, when the UAE is set to revise its current travel restrictions. Returning UAE residents are allowed to enter the country but will need to endure a mandatory quarantine period.

“Emirates’ flights from South Africa will remain suspended until 20 March 2021, in line with government directives that restrict the entry of travellers originating from South Africa, into the UAE,” explained the airline in a statement issued on Sunday.

“Daily passenger flights to Johannesburg will resume from 11 March and will operate as EK763, however outbound passenger services on EK764 remain suspended.”

Prior to the pandemic, Emirates offered daily flights between Johannesburg and Dubai International Airport and was a reliable favourite for South Africans travelling to Asia and the Middle East.

The second flag carrier of the UAE, Etihad Airways, based in Abu Dhabi, suspended its South African flight path in November and has yet to announce a restart date.

The only Middle Eastern airline which has continued flying to and from South Africa since October is Qatar Airways. The Doha-based carrier has since upped its flight frequency to South Africa despite Qatar being off limits to international travellers. Hamad International Airport still serves as a key transit hub to South African travellers, with regular connecting flights to Europe and Asia.

Emirates’ revised flight regulations have also been applied to Nigeria.

“Customers from both Abuja and Lagos will not be accepted for travel prior to or including this date [20 March],” said the airline. “Passengers who have been to or connected through Nigeria in the last 14 days are not allowed entry into the UAE, whether terminating their journey in or connecting through Dubai.”

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