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UK airlines reduce SA flights amid new lockdown woes

Implementation of another month-long lockdown in the UK has forced several airlines to cancel flights to South Africa.

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Image: Pixabay

In an effort to prevent a second wave of COVID-19 infections, the UK government has had little choice but to implement another lockdown. This second lockdown began on 5 November and is set to continue until 2 December.

It therefore once again affects the internal movement of people — and international travel plans.

Virgin Atlantic and British Airways restarted scheduled flights between London and South Africa in October, after South Africa reopened its borders and welcomed the return of international airlines.

Both airlines resumed direct flights between London and Johannesburg. British Airways also restarted direct flights between London and Cape Town.


However, the second lockdown in the UK has led to a slump in demand for flights between South Africa and the UK. Virgin Atlantic has reduced its scheduled flights to Johannesburg for the period 5 November to 2 December. It now offers only two direct flights a week on this route.

Virgin Atlantic will operate these flights on Mondays and Thursdays. The flights will depart Johannesburg at 22:00 and arrive in London the next day at 07:15.

British Airways will not cancel any of its scheduled flights on this route as yet. The airline will notify customers if there are any changes.

COVID-19 airport
Passengers travelling from South Africa to the UK have to complete a 14-day quarantine on arrival in that country. Image: Adobe Stock


British Airways will suspend flights between Cape Town and London. The last scheduled flight British Airways will operate on the route will leave from Cape Town on 12 November. The airline said suspension of this route would be temporary.     

“The suspension will be in place for roughly four weeks, with the possibility of adhoc or charter flights in between, which would be communicated in due course.

“During this period, we will keep you informed of activity and provide updates on a likely restart date in December or beyond – depending on the impact that the newly imposed restrictions have and how long they last,” the airline said in a statement.

Though Virgin Atlantic had planned to start up flights between Cape Town and London in December, there is now uncertainty whether these flights will go ahead as planned.

New travel restrictions could affect the resumption of flights, Virgin Atlantic’s head of Middle East, Africa and India, Liezl Gericke, said.

“Cape Town remains on the radar for a December start, but it remains dependent on travel restrictions in both the UK and South Africa.”


South Africa is on the UK’s list of high-risk countries.

As a result, passengers travelling from South Africa to the UK are required to complete a 14-day quarantine on arrival in the UK.