Board of Airline Representatives of SA warns that more international flights could be cancelled due to airline crew red tape
THERE is a concern that red tape and confusion could stymie the tourism industry’s hope of recovery from the hard lockdown.
Emirates Airlines has cancelled the first international flight, which was scheduled to land at King Shaka International Airport in Durban on Sunday, over the government’s expectation of negative polymerase chain reaction tests from airline crew members.
Flights from Emirates Airlines and Qatar Airways were scheduled to touch down mid-morning and late afternoon respectively, however, only the Qatar flight will be flying in as scheduled.
Government officials announced this week that travellers from Africa and all countries deemed medium to low risk would be allowed into the country for both business and leisure, as of October 1. However, leisure travel from countries with high rates of Covid-19 infections remains prohibited. A list of countries that South Africans can travel to has yet to be compiled by the government as verification of where business and leisure travellers are welcome is still under way.
On arrival, all international travellers and crew members are to produce a negative polymerase chain reaction test, conducted and signed by a certified medical practitioner that is not older than 72 hours from the time of departure from their country of origin.
Carla da Silva, chairperson at the Board of Airline Representatives of South Africa, said airline crew members should not be subjected to the same protocols and regulations as their passengers. She said that if the issue was not resolved, more flights could be cancelled.
“It is not practical because the crew is already subjected to seven to 14-day peak cycles under the respective civil aviation regulations in their countries. The crew is already subjected to testing, they go into hotels to quarantine so they are already in a safe bubble environment.”
Da Silva said that the matter had been escalated to the Department of Transport and necessary stakeholders for urgent review.
Nomusa Dube-Ncube, KZN MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, said she was working with the national government on the issue and was confident that it would be resolved.
Naledi Pandor, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, said all travellers would be screened for Covid-19 symptoms and that they would need to provide proof of accommodation should they need to self-quarantine, which would be at their own cost. Countries flagged as high risk would be reviewed fortnightly to assess recoveries and improvements.
Fouad Caunhye, the Emirates Airlines regional manager, was unreachable at the time of going to publication.