(Photo by James D. Morgan/Getty Images)

  • Emirates has not carried passengers from South Africa since late November.
  • The suspension of departing flights has been extended at least three times previously.
  • In its latest advisory to travel business partners, Emirates says it will not be flying South Africans out of the country until at least January 31.
  • For more stories, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

Emirates will not depart South Africa until at least February 1, according to a recent notice sent to commercial travel partners.

South Africans who want to fly with Emirates will have to wait a while longer, after the Dubai-based airline on Sunday extended the suspension of its flights from Johannesburg. This is the fourth expansion in less than a month.

The airline’s suspension of flights, which only allows passengers to be flown into Johannesburg, but not out of it, was originally due to expire at the end of December 2021. It was extended until January 10 and then January 16 , Emirates selling tickets for these dates on flights departing from OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg.

Emirates flights did not operate from Johannesburg on Sunday and as of Monday the carrier’s online booking platform only showed flights available from February 1. The latest extension was confirmed in a notice to travel business partners, seen by Business Insider South Africa, which said flights from Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban would be suspended until at least January 31.

Emirates will only operate daily passenger and cargo flights to Johannesburg – and still will not fly to or from Cape Town and Durban – until it receives the necessary “government approvals”.

The ongoing United Arab Emirates (UAE) ban on South African travellers, imposed immediately after the detection of the Omicron coronavirus variant in late November, comes amid a growing wave of eased restrictions.

European Union (EU) member states recently agreed to lift their bans on travelers from South Africa and neighboring countries, while the United States and Canada already reopened in December, as well as island destinations like the Seychelles, Mauritius and the Maldives.

Even countries inaccessible to South Africans since the outbreak of the pandemic in early 2020, such as Australia, have started to reopen.

Against the backdrop of these international reopenings and fierce criticism of impulsive bans imposed after South Africa’s genomic surveillance network alerted the world to Omicron, the restrictions imposed by the United Arab Emirates have caused both frustration and confusion.

The UAE is aware that its ongoing ban is unscientific, according to South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO). The department previously told Business Insider SA that it continued to engage with the UAE and was confident the ban would be lifted “soon”.

(Compiled by Luke Daniel)

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