Lufthansa flights from South Africa to Europe
24 August 2020, Hessen, Frankfurt/Main: A Lufthansa Airbus A320neo takes off in front of dark clouds to land at Frankfurt Airport. Photo: Boris Roessler/dpa (Photo by Boris Roessler/picture alliance via Getty Images)
  • Lufthansa is offering return flights to top European destinations from as little as R5,990.
  • Departures from Johannesburg and Cape Town will need to be booked before 20 December.
  • While the European Union is currently shut to most international travellers, Lufthansa’s promotion offers flights until the end of April 2021.
  • If Europe opens its borders within the next five months, ticket holders could score the travel deal of a lifetime
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

South Africans yearning for international travel can get to Europe and back on a shoestring budget. Germany’s largest airline, Lufthansa, is looking to reignite travel between South Africa and Europe following months of coronavirus-induced dormancy.

By the end of December 2020, Lufthansa will be operating 18 weekly flights into South Africa, with return-ticket departures from Johannesburg and Cape Town discounted to unbelievably low rates. The new promotion offers return flights starting at R5,990 in economy class.

Destinations include Frankfurt, Zurich, Geneva, Venice, Rome, and other European cities.

While fares to European destinations may be cheaper than ever before, lockdown restrictions and travel bans, which are particularly stringent in Germany, complicate Lufthansa’s promotion. Entry into the European Union (EU) remains tightly regulated, with pre-flight registrations, clear PCR tests and mandatory quarantine periods enforced at varying levels across all countries.

While most airports are only open to international travellers for transit purposes, Lufthansa’s promotion is underpinned by an optimism. Although South Africans, regarded as "high risk" travellers in Germany, will struggle to take advantage of European travel before the end of 2020, Lufthansa clearly hopes that restrictions will be lifted within the next five months.

For South Africans hoping to explore Europe through Lufthansa’s discounted flight offer, it’s a matter of timing and risk. Travellers will need to purchase their tickets before 20 December with discounted flights operating until 30 April 2021.

If EU nations relax restrictions and welcome international tourists before or during April 2021, travellers who have taken advantage of Lufthansa’s promotion can enjoy a European holiday for a fraction of the cost. Alternatively, if Europe’s borders remain shut during the first half of the new year, ticket holders will need to extend their bookings at exorbitant rates or write it off as a loss.

For European travellers hoping to escape the second wave of coronavirus infections and return to lockdown, Lufthansa’s increased activity in South Africa is more favourable. While European tourists will not be offered the same discounts afforded to travellers departing from Johannesburg or Cape Town, South Africa’s decision to open borders and do away with its "high risk" categorisation has been welcomed by Lufthansa.

“The Lufthansa Group has welcomed the recent announcement by the government to remove the list of high-risk countries and once again open our borders to all leisure and business travellers,” explained André Schulz, General Manager of Lufthansa Group Airlines in Southern and East Africa. “We are fully committed to the South African market and continue our efforts to help recover and expand the tourism sector by encouraging international travel.”

This push to bring European tourists back to South Africa is helped along by German Swiss and Austrian passport holders being able to receive their 90-day visas on arrival.

By the end of December, Lufthansa will be offering five weekly flights between Johannesburg and Frankfurt along with three weekly services between Cape Town and Munich.

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