The first of three SAA flights to repatriate South Africans from the US has landed on home soil.
The flight, which landed on Sunday evening, was carrying 275 South African citizens, Department of International Relations and Cooperation spokesperson Clayson Monyela said.
The remaining two flights would arrive on 5 May and 9 May, carrying 275 passengers each. These follow several flights from Miami, the last of which arrived on Friday and was carrying 256 South Africans.
Once the last SAA flight lands on 9 May, all South Africans who requested repatriation from the US would be home, Monyela said. All of them would undergo a 14-day quarantine period at a government-selected quarantine site, he added.
With the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown imposed by countries across the globe – which includes the almost complete cessation of flights – about 4 500 South Africans found themselves stranded abroad, according to a circular released by Dirco on 27 April.
These included tourist and South Africans working overseas, who now found themselves unemployed. By 27 April, more than 2 000 South African had been repatriated, with around 11 chartered and commercial airline flights taking place that week.
Most South Africans stranded in Europe have been evacuated, according to the circular. However, more than 1 100 South Africans remain stranded in Asia, 400 in Australia, and more than 350 in other African countries.