Dubai-based airline Emirates said Thursday it is temporarily suspending all flights to and from South Africa from this Saturday due to operational reasons without elaborating further.
In a short statement the largest carrier in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) said flights will be on hold from January 16 to January 28.
“Emirates flights to/from South Africa will temporarily be suspended from Saturday 16 January to 28 January 2021 due to operational reasons,” an airline spokesperson told Gulf News.
“Emirates regrets any inconvenience caused. Affected customers should contact their travel agent or Emirates contact center for rebooking options,” the spokesperson added.
“Customers holding tickets with final destinations in South Africa from 16 January to 28 January will not be accepted for travel at their point of origin,” the airline added.
The last flights to the three South African gateways will be on January 15 as per the schedule below:
> Dubai Cape Town – EK772/15JAN
> Dubai – Johannesburg – Durban – EK775/15JAN
> Dubai – Johannesburg – EK763/15JAN
New coronavirus variant prompts flight cancellations
Inbound travel to South Africa for leisure and business has dropped since mid December when the country identified a new, more contagious variant of the coronavirus, forcing countries such as England, Germany, Switzerland, and several in Asia to cancel flights to and from the country.
The new variant is said to be behind a major spike in daily infections and rising deaths for the last month, with total cases currently standing at close to 1.3 million and over 35,000 deaths.
Its local partner in South Africa – Airlink, which sells airline seats provided by Emirates for local destinations, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment, Reuters reported.