Screenshot of Flightradar24 data on flights on Sou
Screenshot of Flightradar24 data on flights on South Africa on Friday morning at 10:47.
  • Flights in SA came to a near standstill on Friday, on day one of the three-week national lockdown. 
  • Data from Flight Radar showed major routes, such as Johannesburg to Cape Town, were devoid of any planes. 
  • SA banned non-essential international and domestic air travel as part of lockdown measures, and scheduled commercial passenger flights have been cancelled.
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Flights across South Africa came to a near standstill on Friday as the country embarked on an unprecedented 21-day lockdown. 

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula prohibited all non-essential international and domestic travel starting on Friday as part of the government’s lockdown measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus, or SARS-Cov-2.

During the lockdown, set to end on April 16, most South Africans will be forced to stay at home, aside from those in essential services such as safety and security, and food distribution. 

See also: Webcams reveal South Africa’s eerie, empty traffic hotspots on day 1 of lockdown

All major South African airlines such as Comair, SAA, and FlySafair cancelled their domestic passenger flights in the lead-up to the lockdown. 

On Friday morning FlightRadar24 visualisations showed that almost no flights were taking off in South Africa, even between the usually busy Johannesburg to Cape Town and Johannesburg to Durban routes. 

For the entire Africa, only a handful of aircraft could be seen as most countries curtailed air travel due to the novel coronavirus.  

Even Europe and the United States, which are awash with aircraft flying, also saw a drastic decline in air travel. 

It is estimated that roughly 20% of the world’s 7.8 billion people are currently in some form of lockdown in a bid to slow down the spread of the coronavirus.

The epidemic is expected to cost airlines billions, with troubled local state-owned airlines such as SAA and SA Express already reporting a deterioration in the financial situations due to the virus. 

(Compiled by James de Villiers)

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