Wednesday 18 March 2020


LEADING international airline, Emirates, has suspended flights from Harare to Lusaka and then Dubai and back from 20 March to 20 May as part of measures to curb the spread of Covid-19.

In a statement, Emirates said the move was in response to the prevailing global conditions following the outbreak of Covid-19, which has spread across the globe and has so far killed more than 8 000 people.

The pandemic has disrupted trade and international exhibitions and business engagements. Most countries have effected travel restrictions as part of measures to curb the spread of Covid-19.

“Flights from Harare to Lusaka and then Dubai (EK714) and flights from Dubai to Lusaka and then Harare (EK713) will be cancelled effective 20th March up to 20 May 2020. Our last flights to and from Harare are on 19 March,” it said.

Meanwhile, Emirates said it has implemented enhanced cleaning and complete disinfection of all cabins as a precaution on all aircraft departing from its hub in Dubai.

“In line with the latest expert medical finding that the Covid-19 virus is primarily transmitted by touch, Emirates placed its focus on surface cleaning. On any aircraft that was found to have transported a suspected or confirmed Covid-19 case, Emirates would go even further and implement deep cleaning and disinfection in a process that takes between six to eight hours to complete. This includes the defogging of cabin interiors and misting with disinfectant across all soft furnishings and replacement of seat covers and cushions in the affected area,” said Emirates.

Meanwhile, South African Airways (SAA) said yesterday that it had cancelled 162 international and regional flights until the end of this month due to low demand and restrictions linked to the Coronavirus. 

SAA is under a form of bankruptcy protection and battling for its survival. President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday announced travel bans affecting several countries where SAA flies, including the United States, Britain and Germany.

“The effects of the outbreak of the coronavirus (Covid-19) have led to travel disruptions and restrictions across the world, leading to the grounding of aircraft, releasing employees and cancelling flights for many airlines. SAA is not immune to these realities,” it said in a statement.

The airline said it reviewed its flight schedule and decided to operate flights under circumstances and business considerations that will require scheduling of flights. “Notwithstanding the decline in demand, SAA continues to aggressively review its schedule to match capacity with demand to the extent possible. Where feasible, we will consider options that include cancelling and merging flights,” said SAA chief commercial officer, Philip Saunders.

For the period 17 until 31 March 2020, SAA has cancelled a total of 162 flights. Of these, 38 are international and 124 are regional (destinations on the African continent) flights.

“Our priority is to assist those travellers wishing to repatriate to their home countries to do so as quickly and efficiently as possible. Naturally, this includes South African citizens abroad wishing to return home,” Saunders said.

Subject to the conditions set out in the travel ban announced by government in South Africa, SAA will also facilitate the transfer of qualifying passengers to or from the destinations it flies to, which have been classified as high-risk areas. – Reuters-The Citizen


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