British Airways has postponed planned Airbus A380 flights to Johannesburg according to its schedule on ba.com. The move comes after the country was re-added to the UK’s red list following the discovery of significant Omicron variant cases in the region.
Ending up on the United Kingdom red list isn’t great for a country or its travelers. Essentially, it means that the UK has deemed the foreign country an extremely high risk to its COVID-19 strategy and wishes to limit travel from the country as far as possible. This is to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including variants, to the UK.
Johannesburg won’t get the A380
British Airways is making the final preparations to send its Airbus A380 fleet back into long-haul service. Given the amount of time and effort already invested in the fleet’s return, the airline is bringing the giant back despite Saturday’s disruptive COVID-19 rule announcement from the UK government.
However, one destination has been taken off of the list for a little longer. British Airways planned to fly the Airbus A380 to South Africa’s largest city from January 10th. A daily service utilizing the giant of the skies was to run alongside a daily Boeing 777 service. The A380 service has now been removed from ba.com until February 1st.
On Thursday, the United Kingdom revealed that it would be adding six African nations back onto the red list. Direct flights were banned but were allowed to be reinstated from 04:00 on Sunday when the government reactivated the hotel quarantine system.
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So why has British Airways postponed A380 flights to Johannesburg?
British Airway initially put the Airbus A380 on flights to Johannesburg due to the massive demand for travel between South Africa and the United Kingdom. The corridor has been one of the most affected in terms of travel bans during the entire pandemic.
At the pandemic’s start, South Africa’s borders were closed, with British Airways using the A380 on repatriation flights last summer. The UK government then banned travel to and from South Africa on December 23rd, 2020, after the country discovered the Beta variant.
In October, the red list was updated to remove South Africa, but just 46 days later, the southern African nation was re-added after it became the first to detect the new Omicron variant. While the country remains on the red-list, British Airways is unlikely to see any real demand for the route, given the unattractive prospect of 10 nights in a government hotel at £2,285 for the first adult on a booking.
It is entirely possible that South Africa could come off of the red list before too long, with the country’s government pleading with nations to review hastily imposed travel restrictions. However, if history is anything to go by, it will be long before the country drops off the UK’s red list.
What do you make of British Airways’ decision to remove the Airbus A380 from Johannesburg flights? Let us know what you think and why in the comments below!