Lockdown rules are due to relax in May – but don’t expect flights, say SAA and FlySafair

Business Insider SA
  • South Africa’s largest domestic airlines FlySafair and SAA say they will not operate any domestic flights in May. 
  • The country will enter lockdown level 4 in May, but under draft regulations domestic flights will only be allowed from level 3. 
  • Even then, FlySafair said, low demand might mean it will not resume flight operations. 
  • Go to the Business Insider South Africa homepage for more stories.

Both FlySafair, the country’s largest domestic airline, and South African Airlines (SAA) will not operate any flights when the national Covid-19 lockdown is eased in May. 

All domestic flights came to an abrupt halt in March when the country enforced a national lockdown, but will not resume in similar abrupt fashion when the phased economic re-opening starts in May.

Under draft regulations, pre-authorised inter-provincial travel will be available under level 4 for those who need to return to work, and for those attending funerals. Limited domestic air travel will be permitted from lockdown level 3 in special circumstances, but unfettered interprovincial travel is only permitted from lockdown level 2.

SAA spokesperson Tlali Tlali said the airline, which has been operating a number of repatriation flights out of South Africa, will not be operating scheduled flights in May and is still seeking clarity from authorities on when, exactly, it will be allowed to resume services. 

FlySafair spokesperson Kirby Gordon said while the country’s phased economic reopening indicates that flights may be resumed on level 3, limited demand may not justify operating flights.  

“There are indications of limited passenger movement on level 2, so to the best of our understanding at this stage, that is the most likely time we’ll be able to actually start operations,” Gordon told Business Insider South Africa. 

“We are expecting limited demand when domestic travel is allowed to happen again, and as a result, we are looking to launch with a limited schedule. The aim would then be to ramp things up as demand improves.” 

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