KLM Royal Dutch airlines has announced the discontinuation of flights to and from South Africa after the Dutch government placed a travel ban on the country.
The ban, which is effect from 23 January 2021, includes all flights with passengers from South Africa, the UK and various countries in South America to the Netherlands, due to continued Covid-19 safety concerns.
“KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has regretfully cancelled all flights from Johannesburg and Cape Town to Amsterdam in order to comply with the new regulation issued by the Dutch Government.
“KLM apologises for the inconvenience these cancellations cause their customers. All passengers will be contacted and re-booked on alternative flights at no additional cost.”
On Wednesday, the United Arab Emirates also announced travel restrictions for South Africa and a number of other countries.
Under the restrictions, you will not be able to enter Dubai if you have been in South Africa within 10 days of departure to Dubai or emirates. This includes transiting in other countries within 10 days before travelling to Dubai.
Travellers holding valid Dubai residence visas will also need government approval before being allowed to depart from South Africa.
The ban comes a week after UAE-based airline Emirates says that it will temporarily suspend all flights to and from South Africa.
Concerns over variant
A number of countries have cited fears of the new Covid-19 variant discovered in the South Africa as reasoning for the bans.
The variant – currently termed the ‘501.V2 Variant’ – was identified by genomics scientists in South Africa and formally announced by government in late December.
Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said a genomics team, led by the Kwazulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform, or KRISP, has sequenced hundreds of samples from across the country since the beginning of the pandemic in March.
They noticed that a particular variant has increasingly dominated the findings of the samples collected in the past two months.
In a national address last week (11 January), president Cyril Ramaphosa confirmed that South Africa’s second coronavirus wave was being driven by this new variant.
Studies have since shown that the variant is around 50% more infectious and transmissible, but there has not been any evidence to indicate that it is more severe or more deadly.