Travellers can break the curfew if flights are delayed

On 14 December, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced extensions to the national curfew from 23:00 to 04:00, and from 22:00 to 04:00 in COVID-19 hotspots.

The extended curfew was implemented to restrict the movement of people as a result of the rising COVID-19 infection rates in South Africa. The revised curfew has led to local airlines cancelling scheduled flights, which has caused a number of passengers to cancel their holiday plans altogether.

AIRLINES CANCEL FLIGHTS

The revised national curfew forced airlines to cancel several flights to allow crew members and passengers to safely travel between airports and their homes or holiday accommodation before the start of the curfew.

The Daily Maverick reported on 15 December that nearly 10,000 passengers were affected by FlySafair cancelling later flights which would cause its staff and passengers to violate curfew regulations due to the late arrival times of their flights.

“The curfew has had a marked impact on our operations,” FlySafair’s Kirby Gordon told The Daily Maverick. 

MANY CANCEL DUE TO CURFEW AND BEACH CLOSURES

closed beach
Curfews and closed beaches have given South Africa’s summer tourism season a huge knock. Image: Adobe Stock

The flight cancellations resulted in many disappointed and angry passengers. FlySafair tried to accommodate affected passengers with alternative flights as far as possible, but also offered passengers the option of cancelling their flights and claiming a full refund or rebooking for future travel.

A number of passengers were accommodated on flights which arrived before curfew begins while some decided to travel in the next 12 months or claim full refunds. Other holidaymakers cancelled their holiday plans entirely in light of the beach closures and added curfew restrictions.

“The shorter flying day limits our opportunity to generate revenue, which will have an impact on our ability to earn during this crucial period for us,” Gordon said.

Hoteliers and accommodation providers in the Eastern Cape and Garden Route have reported high numbers of cancellations from visitors due to arrive over this period. Cancelled bookings amount to huge losses of income for the hospitality and tourism sectors.

TOURISM BUSINESS COUNCIL ALERTS MINISTER

Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) brought the matter to the attention of Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane in an effort to mitigate the losses of revenue in the local tourism and hospitality sectors.

“Since the announcement made by the president on Monday 14 December, we saw an increase in flight cancellations due to fears of passengers being on the road during the curfew hours. However, we spoke to the minister of tourism and industry stakeholders to come to a conclusion that would not affect domestic flights,” Tshivhengwa said.

SPECIAL DISPENSATION FOR TRAVELLERS

The losses incurred due to the cancellation of flights and accommodation will affect the country’s tourism and hospitality sectors. The loss of business will lead to further business closures and job losses. This will harm South Africa’s already troubled economy.

Passengers who are unable to reach their homes or holiday accommodation before curfew starts will be not be prosecuted. They will need to show the authorities their boarding passes to be allowed to travel home or to their holiday accommodation, after curfew has begun.

“An agreement was reached for all travellers using flights to be allowed to be on the road during curfew times if their flights were delayed or if the flight arrives close to or later than curfew time.

“All they have to do is produce their boarding pass as proof, should they be stopped by the police while completing their journey,” Tshivhengwa said.