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Monday, January 24, 2022

Has Qatar Airways backtracked on flights to South Africa again?


The Gulf carrier recently announced it had reinstated flights from South Africa, but many complained that flights had been cancelled. 

Over the weekend, Qatar Airways announced it had gone back on a previous ban on travellers from South Africa, claiming it had reinstated inbound and outbound flights from the country as of Sunday.

The supposed lifting of the ban was a response to allegations of bias towards southern Africa nations, especially after it was revealed that the whereabout of “patient zero” were not near the region.

South African scientists were the first to stumble across what would be known worldwide as the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, with European health agencies confirming the variant was already in the Netherlands a week before South Africa reported the new mutation to the World Health Organization.

However, many have reported that since the “return” of flights on Sunday, many Qatar Airways flights have been cancelled, causing confusion and uncertainty among travellers.

The Qatar flag carrier tweeted that it would start outbound flights in order to support South African tourism with 21 flights a week.

Passengers who were affected by the ban over the past two weeks were notified that they could rebook their tickets for one of the flights.

However, passengers who spoke to Doha News said they shortly began receiving notifications from the Gulf airline that it had cancelled their flights once again.

One source claimed that his family were due to fly with Qatar Airways from South Africa for his wedding, but that they received a notification only 24 hours prior that their flight had been postponed.

On a Facebook group titled “South Africans Flying During Covid,” multiple people reported that their flights from South Africa from Sunday and this week have been cancelled.

Some cases saw flights being confirmed, only to be cancelled two hours later. Passengers have reported being given less than 24 hours notice for cancellation with no options for refunds or time to find other flights with different airlines.

Doha News reached out to Qatar Airways for a comment but has yet to receive a response.

However, in a statement from Qatar Airways to Business Insider South Africa, the airline said that “due to operational reasons, Qatar Airways has unfortunately had to postpone the restart of outbound passenger services from South Africa for a short period of time.

“We apologise to our customers and recommend they contact their travel agent or visit www.qatarairways.com for further information.”

The carrier’s website currently states Qatar Airways “will no longer be accepting passengers travelling from five Southern African countries in our global network. However, we will continue to accept passengers for travel into these countries in-line with current restrictions.”

Of these destinations, Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban were listed as cities that airline will not be accept travellers from until further notice.

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