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Emirates resumes flights from 5 African countries – but not South Africa

Business Insider SA

Emirates flights South Africa
(Photo by James D. Morgan/Getty Images)
  • Emirates has resumed carrying passengers from Guinea, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Uganda, and Angola.
  • But flights from South Africa remain suspended, with Emirates only carrying passengers into Johannesburg from Dubai.
  • South Africa's department of international relations and cooperation believes that the "unscientific" travel ban will be lifted "soon".
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

Emirates resumed flights from Guinea, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Uganda, and Angola on Thursday but is still not carrying passengers out of South Africa.

The United Arab Emirates' (UAE) flag carrier is slowly reopening to African passengers after halting most of its routes on the continent following the discovery of the Omicron coronavirus variant in late November.

Flight schedules for more than half of Emirates' African destinations have been disrupted. In most cases, like in South Africa, Emirates has continued to carry passengers from, but not to, Dubai.

Travellers in southern Africa have been hardest hit, due to a strict entry ban imposed by the UAE. Although Emirates only has direct routes to 4 destinations in the region – Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, and Harare – the UAE's ban extends to foreign travellers who have spent time in any of the six countries which share a border with South Africa.

While Emirates' Johannesburg flights are only carrying travellers from Dubai, its Cape Town and Johannesburg routes remain wholly suspended. This suspension has been extended at least twice over the past month-and-a-half, with travel from South Africa first expected to resume on the first day of New Year and then on 10 January.

Emirates' flight ban on South African travellers has frustrated those needing to return to work or family commitments in Dubai or transit onto destinations in Europe or North America. And the airline's last-minute extensions have created further problems for ticketholders.

Tickets for flights between Johannesburg and Dubai from Sunday 16 January are currently being sold, but Emirates has not given Business Insider South Africa any assurances as to whether this is the official restart date or if these flights will operate.

The UAE's National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority (NCEMA), responsible for developing Covid-19 containment measures, has not yet relaxed the ban on travellers from South Africa and neighbouring countries.  

The UAE is aware that its ongoing travel ban is unscientific, according to South Africa's Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO). Spokesperson Clayson Monyela recently told Business Insider South Africa that DIRCO has been in continuous engagement with the UAE and that it believes the "decision will be reviewed soon."

(Compiled by Luke Daniel)

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