It’s important to take note of the fact that South Africa had banned all international flights for no fewer than six months. So maybe not that hard to imagine then that most airlines operating out of the renowned African nation would’ve faced only more unrest given the general economic situation in the country hasn’t been all that promising.
Moreover, while six months may read akin to some normal statistic, the situation reads differently and perhaps becomes telling when one views the said time period as being no less daunting than half a year. Would it have been any easy on the aviation sector for not operating international flights for half a year?
Moreover, what about the allied sectors that stand to benefit from overseas visits, including- hospitality and tourism? As a matter of fact, an indication of how international tourism caters to the nation’s economy can be understood by the fact that *Pre-Pandemic South Africa hosted not less than 17 million visitors a year.
But then change is often on the cards when one expects none of it- right? True to that end, it could be said, there’s a slight breather of sorts where it comes to international flying operations as the country took a different stance where international flying is concerned a few hours back.
So how is that?
For starters, South Africa reopened its international flights, thus breaking free of the travel restrictions that had been imposed by the government as a means to stop the spread of the virus.
But the lifting of the international travel ban is subjected to one important factor; the big pre-requisite. Those arriving on international flights need to necessarily provide a negative COVID-19 Test issued no more than 72 hours before one’s departure.
That told, the changed stance on international travel must not be confused with the fact that the restrictions, hitherto enforced in a bid to contain the virus, have been lifted off or done away with.
An indication of how the reopening impacted the national mood could be sensed from the buzz felt at the Johannesburg Airport on the first day of October. Present on the occasion was the country’s tourism minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane who took a first-hand account of the proceedings at the usually busy O.R Tambo International Airport.
The idea also being to ensure whether all safety precautions and social distancing measures were being observed.
With a capacity to handle no fewer than 28 million passengers each year, the Guateng-based airport is an important entry point to the 25th most populous country in the world. And it only made sense to note some strand of relief that the incoming tourist expressed when asked for one’s thoughts.
For instance, Zambia-bound Chris Nyamkondiwa, expressed his delight at returning to his home in South Africa to see his family for the first time since the lockdown began.
What a relief must this have brought to mothers, for instance, one Anne van Wyk, who expressed relief at finally getting the opportunity to visit her children in the US after half a year!
Meanwhile, the tourism minister expressed delight in stating, “It was quite overwhelming to see that all the passengers who arrived had no difficulties with understanding what is expected from them to produce.”
The only question among many for an ailing economy is whether the airline business can regroup with the changed directives for they are the ones that have been marred with difficulties. Take for instance, the case of the country’s flag carrier, South African airways, which as on September 30, had suspended all operations as its administrators were in the process of raising cash, a tough situation for an airline whose government claims, it is doing all it can to rescue the embattled airline.
*statistic taken from thepointsguy.com