Denel spokesperson Pam Malinda said the four employees landed on Saturday morning (35 April) on board SA Airways aircraft, SA2261, as part of a group of South Africans repatriated from Europe on Friday.
Malinda said the employees were contracted by Denel Aeronautics at the Airbus assembly plant in Seville, Spain, when the outbreak of the pandemic occurred. Denel Aeronautics had a contract with Airbus to deliver critical parts of the A400M airlifter. The parts are manufactured at the Denel Aeronautics campus in Kempton Park and then shipped to Seville for final assembly.
“Spain is one of the countries in Europe that has been hardest hit by the virus [COVID-19] and the four could not immediately return because of the stringent travel restrictions imposed by both countries.
“Their stay had to be extended due to the lockdown in Spain and the cancellation of all flights to South Africa. The contract had been due to expire now in mid-April 2020,” Malinda explained.
Malinda added that after landing in Johannesburg this morning, employees were placed in quarantine, as a precautionary measure before being reunited with their families.
Malinda also expressed Denel’s appreciation to the South African government, particularly the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), for facilitating the repatriation process of South Africans abroad, and ensuring the safe return of the four employees back home.