In an earlier statement they had also announced the cancellation of regional flights (Africa), but then corrected, or contradicted this, in a subsequent statement.
Some passengers have not been allowed to disembark from flights that already landed from abroad.
This after Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula gazetted regulations and issued a Notice to Air Men (NOTAM), an official government notice prohibiting the embarkation and disembarkation of crew and passengers from SAA’s three international destinations.
The regulations mean no flights from high-risk countries including the United States (Washington DC and New York, JFK), the United Kingdom (London, Heathrow) and Germany (Frankfurt and Munich) will be allowed into South Africa.
The regulations read in part: “Disembarkation of foreign nationals from the high-risk countries is suspended on airports upon arrival. Embarkation and disembarkation is permissible under the following circumstances: Disembarkation of returning South African citizens and permanent residents; embarkation of departing foreign nationals, disembarkation of a declared medical emergency foreign nationals must be approved by port health services; upon landing, crew from high-risk countries shall be subject to medical screening and quarantined for 21 days.”
There have been reports that citizens from high-risk countries have not been allowed to disembark from planes.
“The Covid-19 pandemic and attendant travel restrictions resulted in substantial decline in demand for air travel. The situation caused many airlines across the world to ground aircraft, release their employees and to cancel flights. in the case of SAA, this decision means that SAA will only render services on its regional and domestic routes,” it said.
The airline will allow one free change on SAA-operated flights, with assistance being provided to all ticketed passengers holding a South African Airways ticket only.
“It is a responsibility of all of us and not just government to curb further transmission of the virus. Especially because we operate in the high-risk regions,” said SAA Acting CEO, Zuks Ramasia.
The country had 202 confirmed cases of Covid-19 as of Friday morning.