The UAE flag-carrier Emirates announced Thursday that it would be temporarily suspending all flights to South Africa. No services will run from Dubai between Saturday, January 16th, and Thursday, January 28th. The airline stated that the reasons for the suspension are “operational” but has not provided any further detail.
The decision impacts all Emirates’ passengers between Dubai and South Africa. Those transferring from other locations with SA as their final destination will no be allowed to board at their initial point of origin.
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Final flights before suspension departed Friday
The final services before the pause comes into effect are today, Friday, January 15th. Two flights have already departed Dubai for Cape Town (EK772) and Johannesburg (EK763), with the latter continuing on to Durban (EK775) later in the day.
“Emirates regrets any inconvenience caused. Affected customers should contact their travel agent or Emirates contact centre for rebooking options,” a spokesperson for Emirates told Gulf News.
Simple Flying has reached out to Emirates for more detail on the suspensions but was yet to receive any response at the time of publication. This article may be updated with further information at a later stage.
SA flights banned in several countries
While it should be reiterated that Emirates says the suspension is due to operational reasons, the suspension does come as several countries have banned flights from South Africa.
Following the confirmation of a new, more infectious strain of SARS-CoV-2 in mid-December, Israel, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Denmark, Turkey, the UK, and Hong Kong have banned flights from the country. Many of these also do not permit entry to any traveler having visited SA over the course of the past couple of weeks.
So did the Netherlands and Switzerland early on, but later partially reversed their decisions. The former permits arrivals on the basis of a negative PCR-test no older than 72-hours before the scheduled arrival time. The latter has opened up for limited flight operations to allow Swiss nationals to return home.
More contagious, not more deadly
Among the first countries to ban South Africa flights on December 20th, Israel has detected at least four cases of the new strain due to advanced testing. While the variant is more contagious, there is no indication that it is more deadly.
Cases in South Africa have surged since the start of the New Year, and the country has closed its land borders.
“The number of new infections, hospital admissions and deaths is higher now than it has ever been since the first case was recorded in our country in March 2020,” President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a statement at the beginning of the week seen by Simple Flying. He added that since New Year’s Day, the country had recorded nearly 190,000 new cases of COVID-19.
Are you affected by the Emirates flight suspension, or do you know someone who is? Tell us about it in the comments.