The prospect of a harder lockdown in South Africa could see it lose out on potential Northern hemisphere travel and tourism in the coming weeks – while international travel suspensions and restrictions remain in place as the country gets hit by a third wave of infections.
The latest casualty is UAE-based airline Emirates which this week walked back on a proposal to resume flights at the end of June.
In a notice published on Monday (21 June), the airline said that Emirates’ flights from South Africa will remain suspended until 6 July 2021, in line with government directives that restrict the entry of travellers originating from South Africa into the UAE.
Customers who have been to or connected through South Africa in the last 14 days will not be permitted on Emirates flights bound for Dubai, it said.
Another route to suffer a delayed return is the Delta Airlines route between Atlanta and Johannesburg. The Delta route was initially expected to launch in October 2020, but due to restrictions and US travel bans, the plan has been delayed several times.
The latest delay pushes back the launch date from July 2021 to August 2021. The airline had also planned to launch a route from Atlanta to Cape Town, but this has now also been dropped.
A number of source travel markets have also kept restrictions on South Africa in place over fears of possible variant transmission – including the UK and large parts of the European Union.
While the US has lowered restrictions in recent weeks, the country’s health authorities still advise against unnecessary travel to South Africa.
President Cyril Ramaphosa will hold dsicussions on the possibility of moving to a stricter lockdown level with the government’s National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) this week.
Addressing the media on Tuesday (22 June), Ramaphosa said that indications are that government will have to increase the measures that it puts in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19 – particularly in Gauteng.
Further restrictions and the rise in cases will prolong South Africa’s full re-entry to international travel, with the country already falling behind, according to flight data.