Foreign nationals stuck in South Africa are to be flown back home by South African Airways (SAA), with German citizens being first in line to be helped.
SAA and its business rescue practitioners (BRP) have engaged with several governments since the announcement of the national shutdown to consider the airline in providing a safe passage for foreign citizens to return home.
The 21-day lockdown, which started last Friday, led to the halting of passenger flights in and out of the country.
The South African government has, however, approved for SAA to assist in repatriating international citizens on conditions the amended regulations issued by the department of transport are adhered to.
“Following the engagements with various embassies and in consultation with the relevant government departments, SAA has agreed to provide repatriation charter flights to various international destinations,” SAA’s BRP said yesterday.
The first group would be German citizens, who would be repatriated on chartered flights on Friday from Johannesburg to Munich, and Cape Town to Frankfurt.
A group of more than 60 German tourists were placed under quarantine in Gauteng after one of them tested positive for Covid-19. The group had planned to leave South Africa the day before the lockdown started.
Flights will be subject to health and safety measures as stipulated in the regulations.
The flights will operate on strict conditions:
- Flights will operate in a commercial nature to deal with the thousands of passengers who could not be accommodated due the lockdown.
- Individuals who have tested positive for Covid-19 will not be permitted on the flights. The flights are not for the transportation of any individual who tested positive and are not medical evacuation flights.
- All passengers will be subject to screening prior to departing. Any passenger with flu-like symptoms will not be permitted on any of the flights.
“In these difficult times, SAA is committed to collaborating with all its partners and stakeholders in the fight against Covid-19. The airline will ensure the necessary transfer of passengers and essential cargo takes place in a safe and compliant manner for all during these flights,” said BRP.
Negotiations with other governments for the repatriation of their citizens are ongoing.