Emirates is unlikely to fly out of South Africa before February

Business Insider SA

Emirates flights South Africa
(Photo by James D. Morgan/Getty Images)
  • Emirates hasn’t flown passengers out of South Africa since late November.
  • The suspension of outbound flights has been extended at least three times before.
  • In its latest notice to travel trade partners, Emirates says it won’t be flying South Africans out of the country until at least 31 January.
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Emirates won’t be flying out of South Africa until at least 1 February, according to a recent notice sent to travel trade partners.

South Africans looking to fly with Emirates will have to wait a while longer, after the Dubai-based airline extended its suspension of flights out of Johannesburg on Sunday. This is the fourth extension in under a month.

The airline’s flight suspension, which only allows for passengers to be carried into, but not out of, Johannesburg, was first due to lapse at the end of December 2021. It was extended to 10 January and then 16 January, with Emirates selling tickets for these dates on flights departing Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport.

Emirates flights did not operate from Johannesburg on Sunday, and, by Monday, the carrier’s online booking platform only displayed available flights from 1 February. The latest extension was confirmed in a notice to travel trade partners, seen by Business Insider South Africa, which announced that outbound flights from Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban would be suspended until at least 31 January.

Emirates will only operate daily passenger and cargo flights to Johannesburg – and still won’t be flying to or from Cape Town and Durban – until it receives the necessary “government approvals”.

The United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) ongoing ban on South African travellers, imposed immediately after the detection of the Omicron coronavirus variant in late November, comes amid a rising tide of relaxed restrictions.

Member States of the European Union (EU) recently agreed to drop their bans on travellers from South Africa and neighbouring countries, while the United States and Canada already reopened in December, along with island destinations like the Seychelles, Mauritius, and the Maldives.

Even countries which have been inaccessible to South Africans since the outbreak of the pandemic in early 2020, like Australia, have begun to reopen.

Against the backdrop of these international reopening and fierce criticism aimed at the “knee-jerk” bans imposed after South Africa’s Network for Genomic Surveillance alerted the world to Omicron, the UAE’s restrictions have been met with both frustration and confusion.

The UAE is aware that its ongoing ban is unscientific, according to South Africa’s department of international relations and cooperation (DIRCO). The department previously told Business Insider SA that it continued to engage with the UAE and was confident that the ban would be lifted “soon”.

(Compiled by Luke Daniel)

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