South African Airways (SAA) will continue to aid repatriation of foreign nationals wanting to be reunited with family in their home countries.
“We are pleased to assist and will continue to work with foreign governments through embassies and high commissions in repatriation of their nationals to rejoin families to share comfort, support and strength during these trying times,” said SAA acting General Manager for Operations Tebogo Tsimane.
Tsimane’s comments came as an SAA operated flight repatriated 313 Canadians from Johannesburg and Cape Town to London, for onward connections to Canada.
“SAA is collaborating with the Government of Canada through the High Commission of Canada in South Africa, to assist Canadians stranded in South Africa to return home, after the lockdown was implemented in response to the outbreak of the Coronavirus, which resulted in travel restrictions,” said the national carrier on Friday.
On 22 March, the South African government declared a national lockdown, starting at midnight on 26 March to curb the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus).
In response to the pandemic, SAA suspended all domestic, regional and international flights.
Last Thursday, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a two week extension of the 21 day national lockdown, part of efforts to slow the spread of the virus.
SAA repatriated thousands of German, Brazilians and Belgian nationals to their home countries over the past two weeks. These repatriation flights require among others, the consideration, approval and support of the South African government to implement.
Acting High Commissioner of Canada to South Africa, Kim Butler said Canada was happy to be working with SAA in repatriating citizens.
“We know how important it is to be home in these challenging times. We are happy to be working with SAA and the Government of South Africa to organise this special flight allowing many Canadians to make their way home,” said the High Commissioner.
Friday’s flight was operated in collaboration with the Canadian government, in line with the health and safety provisions contained in the South African travel regulations and relevant provisions of the lockdown, as well as Transport Canada regulations.
“SAA has taken all measures to ensure airport staff, cabin crew and flight deck crew are safe and protected by providing appropriate training and protective clothing as approved by the Communicable Disease plan,” said Tsimane.
Screening protocols were conducted before the flight departed.