Lufthansa has become the first international airline to resume flights to South Africa. After landing its first scheduled flight in the country for several months on Thursday morning, the airline has announced services will continue to Cape Town and Johannesburg.
Announced on Twitter, Lufthansa stated its direct service to Cape Town would begin on October 7. This twice-weekly route will fly out of Frankfurt am Main Airport and land at Cape Town International Airport. The airline will use its fleet of Boeing 747’s to operate on this route.
Here we go: Lufthansa and SWISS are the first European airlines to resume operations to South Africa, after the country reopened the borders. LH572 was already warmly welcomed this morning! Flights to Johannesburg and Cape Town are now available. pic.twitter.com/zOS9YHxTIs
— Lufthansa News (@lufthansaNews) October 1, 2020
Why are flights resuming?
Flights have resumed owing to the easing of travel restrictions in South Africa. The country lifted its international travel ban at midnight, as a host of carriers announced their intention to resume flights to South Africa, including Emirates, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Air France.
While Lufthansa carried out a number of repatriation flights during South Africa’s six-month lockdown period, commercial flights were not available. Like most countries worldwide, South Africa implemented lockdown measures and travel restrictions in March to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
The route from Frankfurt to Cape Town will operate twice a week, and services will resume on Wednesday, October 7. Notably, flights are to be conducted using the airline’s fleet of Boeing 747’s. Lufthansa has a number of aging 747-400’s, along with its “flagship” 747-8’s. Additionally, the airline plans to add 20 brand-new 777-9’s to its fleet in 2022.
Despite talk of retiring much of its 747 fleet early due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Lufthansa still has the aircraft in its plans. Unfortunately, its fleet of Airbus A380s is likely to remain grounded permanently unless there is a sudden recovery in the travel industry.
Is everything back to normal?
While there is plenty of room for optimism for the international travel market, airlines are still cautious about future prospects. Scheduled flights are subject to change on short notice depending on demand, so there is no guarantee international flights will remain in place long-term.
Extensive health measures will be in force onboard and in airports to prevent the transmission of COVID-19. Passengers must wear masks during flights and will need to present a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of the time of departure. Upon arrival, passengers will also need to pass through health screening facilities.
International travel in South Africa
Lufthansa has long thrived in the South African market, owing to the strong relations between Germany and South Africa. The airline’s regional manager, André Schulz, commented:
“South Africa remains an attractive destination for both German business travelers and holidaymakers and as Germany moves into winter, we look forward to bringing visitors back to South Africa and helping to boost the very important tourism sector again.”
The excitement surrounding the recent developments was also shared by German Ambassador Martin Schäfer:
“This is truly an important moment. After more than six months, international commercial flights are back and here to stay.”
Are you excited about international travel opening up across the world? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.