SA’s ‘confusing’ travel laws updated: Three issues clarified for airlines

SA’s ‘confusing’ travel laws updated: Three issues clarified for airlines

South Africa is in danger of alienating itself from some of the biggest airlines in the world, just as the country is imploring international visitors to come and spend their money on our shores. An almighty dispute over SA’s travel laws – which has already seen Emirates remove services to this country – now required departmental intervention.

Travel laws: What airlines are pulling out of South Africa?

The Transport Ministry has updated a number of directives related to the international travel laws in South Africa, with a particular focus on the cabin crew and flight staff on-board certain planes. Emirates withdrew from Mzansi, after it was confirmed that all aviation workers who have been on an aircraft must present a PCR certificate, proving they don’t have COVID.

However, for flight crews, the ability to secure a Polymerase Chain Reaction test while working is a very difficult task. This thorny issue has upset airlines far and wide, with Lufthansa also expressing their concerns about SA’s travel laws.

Late on Sunday, the government posted an update on the situation. Not much has changed, but the confusing guidance has at least been issued in writing: Here’s what you need to know.

Travel laws updated – here’s what has been clarified:

What can airline staff do if they have a PCR test?

Air crew members can only move around safely if they provide a PCR test upon arrival in South Africa. Even if they can produce the certificate, there is still a requirement to screen these people at the airport, and health protocols – such as mask-wearing and social distancing – will still apply to those who have tested negative for COVID-19.

What must staff without a PCR test do?

Bad news for flight crew members who haven’t secured a PCR test result: Although you will still be allowed to enter South Africa, you will be asked to self-quarantine at the hotel you’re staying in. Your movement in Mzansi will be extremely limited.

When will government communicate other decisions?

The government has stated that it will meet ‘from time to time’ to assess the latest COVID-19 data and consider when certain rules can be relaxed. It has been established that the high-risk travel list – which bans tourists from certain countries visiting South Africa – will be reviewed every two weeks.


On 03 October 2020, the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA), an entity of the Department of Transport, issued a Notice To AirMen (NOTAM), to all airlines operating in the Republic of South Africa.

— 𝙼𝙴𝙳𝙸𝙰 𝙻𝙸𝙰𝙸𝚂𝙾𝙽 | 𝙴𝚜𝚎𝚝𝚑𝚞 (@EsethuOnDuty) October 4, 2020

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