Please click the link below to see current Travel Update.
Dear SAA Customer
In recent weeks, daily lives have changed beyond recognition as a result of the Covid 19 global pandemic.
During this time, South African Airways has been at the forefront of helping customers travel to where they need to be. I would like to thank all our staff for their tireless dedication to duty in difficult times.
As you may be aware, the South African government has declared a total lockdown, which starts at midnight tonight and will last 21 days. This measure is essential in combatting the spread of the Covid 19 virus.
As a result, we announced the temporary suspension of all flights across the SAA network with effect from Friday 27th March 2020 until 16th April 2020. We aim to recommence domestic services between Johannesburg and Cape Town on 17th April 2020.
Furthermore, we shall be suspending all the usual services we provide to support our customers, including the call centre. This enables us to keep our staff at home and comply with the lockdown on non-essential services.
For those customers holding unused SAA tickets, there’s no need to worry and no need to contact us now. All customers holding an unused ticket will be able to use its full value as a credit for travel on any SAA service over the next two years up to and including 24th March 2022. We will also permit a free name change if you no longer wish to travel. This is part of SAA’s commitment to support our customers in these unprecedented times.
For further information, please visit our website (flysaa.com), which we intend to update throughout the Covid 19 crisis.
On behalf of everyone at SAA, keep safe and keep well.
South African Airways
As per the UAE government’s directive, Emirates will temporarily suspend all passenger services from 25 March 2020. We are very sorry for any inconvenience caused to our customers and travellers. These measures are in place to contain the spread of COVID-19, and we hope to resume services as soon as feasible.
You don’t currently need to call us to cancel your booking as we will not charge no show fees. Please however complete the Travel voucher request form to re-book your flight later. We are experiencing high call volumes. If you are not travelling in the next 48 hours please consider calling us later. We can usually answer your call quicker if you can speak to us in English.
Customers with tickets issued on/before 31st March who are impacted due to:
- Travel ban: Where there is government notification that prohibits travel
- Travel advisory: General government advisory against non-essential travel
- Quarantine requirements: Mandatory quarantine at origin or destination
- Mandatory lockdown: Countries in which government have issued a mandatory lockdown and customers are therefore unable to reach airport
- Flight cancellation: Flights cancelled by Emirates
are eligible for Rebooking and Travel Voucher options:
- Travel voucher for ticket value with a validity of 12 months from date of issue.
- Customers with flight bookings for travel on or before 30 June 2020 can rebook their flights to any Emirates destination within the same region without a rebooking fee or paying any fare difference.
Emirates regions are: Africa; Australasia; Europe; Far East; Gulf, Middle East and Iran; Indian Ocean Islands; North America; South America; West Asia
Customers who booked directly with Emirates can visit the Travel Voucher webpage and add “Refund request due to Coronavirus” in the comments section. Customers who booked with a travel agent must contact them for further assistance with their bookings.
The Department of State advises U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19. In countries where commercial departure options remain available, U.S. citizens who live in the United States should arrange for immediate return to the United States, unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period. U.S. citizens who live abroad should avoid all international travel. Many countries are experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks and implementing travel restrictions and mandatory quarantines, closing borders, and prohibiting non-citizens from entry with little advance notice. Airlines have cancelled many international flights and several cruise operators have suspended operations or cancelled trips. If you choose to travel internationally, your travel plans may be severely disrupted, and you may be forced to remain outside of the United States for an indefinite timeframe.
On March 14, the Department of State authorized the departure of U.S. personnel and family members from any diplomatic or consular post in the world who have determined they are at higher risk of a poor outcome if exposed to COVID-19 or who have requested departure based on a commensurate justification. These departures may limit the ability of U.S. Embassies and consulates to provide services to U.S. citizens.
For the latest information regarding COVID-19, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) website.
You are encouraged to visit travel.state.gov to view individual Travel Advisories for the most urgent threats to safety and security. Please also visit the website of the relevant U.S. embassy or consulate to see information on entry restrictions, foreign quarantine policies, and urgent health information provided by local governments.
Travelers are urged to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency. The Department uses these Alerts to convey information about terrorist threats, security incidents, planned demonstrations, natural disasters, etc. In an emergency, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate or call the following numbers: 1(888) 407-4747 (toll-free in the United States and Canada) or 1 (202) 501-4444 from other countries or jurisdictions.
If you decide to travel abroad or are already outside the United States:
- Consider returning to your country of residence immediately using whatever commercial means are available.
- Have a travel plan that does not rely on the U.S. Government for assistance.
- Review and follow the CDC’s guidelines for the prevention of coronavirus.
- Check with your airline, cruise lines, or travel operators regarding any updated information about your travel plans and/or restrictions.
- Visit travel.state.gov to view individual Travel Advisories for the most urgent threats to safety and security.
- Visit our Embassy webpages on COVID-19 for information on conditions in each country or jurisdiction.
- Visit the Department of Homeland Security’s website on the latest travel restrictions to the United States
- Visit Keeping workplaces, homes, schools, or commercial establishments safe.
UAE Visa Update
|Dear Trade Partner,
Effective 00.01 March 19, 2020, the UAE government will implement the following restrictions until further notice:
UAE authorities have temporarily suspended the issuance of all entry visas including those for countries with visa-on-arrival and countries covered by visa waivers, with the exception of diplomatic passports.
From March 18, 2020, all residents arriving back to the UAE will be quarantined for a duration of two (2) weeks.Those who have received UAE tourist visas but who have not yet entered the country will have their visa cancelled, and a refund arranged.
This will be a temporary measure until a mechanism for pre-emptive medical processes at the border are established to contribute to the public safety of the UAE and other countries.
The current situation is constantly evolving and countries are continually updating policies applicable to entry requirements. As such please consult the relevant Embassy/Consular website for the most up to date information.
For more information on UAE visa restrictions, visit Dubai Airports.
Thank you, Emirates USA
NOTE: The information is correct to the best of IATA’s knowledge at the time of publication and is being reviewed and updated on an ongoing basis by IATA staff, given the rapidly evolving nature of the international response to the COVID-19 outbreak IATA cannot guarantee its accuracy and can accept no liability for any errors or omissions. IATA reserves the right to add or change information at any time. Links to third party websites of third parties are offered as a courtesy. IATA expresses no opinion on the content of the websites of third parties and does not accept any responsibility for third-party information. You should make your own independent inquiries before relying on any information or materials contained on these pages.
Please click this link for updated country specific updates due to Coronavirus.
15 March 2020 – 8:30pm
Fellow South Africans,
I am addressing you this evening on a matter of great national importance.
The world is facing a medical emergency far graver than what we have experienced in over a century.
The World Health Organisation has declared the coronavirus outbreak as a global pandemic.
There are now more than 162 000 people who have tested positive for the coronavirus across the globe.
Given the scale and the speed at which the virus is spreading, it is now clear that no country is immune from the disease or will be spared its severe impact.
Never before in the history of our democracy has our country been confronted with such a severe situation.
From the start of the outbreak in China earlier this year, the South African government has put in place measures to screen visitors entering the country, to contain its spread and to treat those infected.
As of now, South Africa has 61 confirmed cases of people infected with the virus, and this number is expected to rise in the coming days and weeks.
Initially, it was people who had travelled out of the country, especially from Italy, who had positively tested for the virus.
It is concerning that we are now dealing with internal transmission of the virus.
This situation calls for an extraordinary response; there can be no half measures.
Cabinet held a special meeting earlier today.
After which, due to the serious measures we are going to announce, I have consulted the premiers.
We have decided to take urgent and drastic measures to manage the disease, protect the people of our country and reduce the impact of the virus on our society and on our economy.
We have now declared a national state of disaster in terms of the Disaster Management Act.
This will enable us to have an integrated and coordinated disaster management mechanism that will focus on preventing and reducing the outbreak of this virus.
We will also be able to set up emergency, rapid and effective response systems to mitigate the severity of its impact.
Following an extensive analysis of the progression of the disease worldwide and in South Africa, Cabinet has decided on the following measures:
Firstly, to limit contact between persons who may be infected and South African citizens.
We are imposing a travel ban on foreign nationals from high-risk countries such as Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom and China as from 18 March 2020.
We have cancelled visas to visitors from those countries from today and previously granted visas are hereby revoked.
South African citizens are advised to refrain from all forms of travel to or through the European Union, United States, United Kingdom and other identified high-risk countries such as China, Iran and South Korea.
This is effective immediately.
Government will continue to regularly issue travel alerts referring to specific cities, countries or regions as the situation evolves based on the risk level.
Any foreign national who has visited high-risk countries in the past 20 days will be denied a visa.
South African citizens returning from high-risk countries will be subjected to testing and self-isolation or quarantine on return to South Africa.
Travellers from medium-risk countries – such as Portugal, Hong Kong and Singapore – will be required to undergo high intensity screening.
All travellers who have entered South Africa from high-risk countries since mid-February will be required to present themselves for testing.
We will strengthen surveillance, screening and testing measures at OR Tambo, Cape Town and King Shaka International Airports South Africa has 72 ports of entry in the country which are land, sea and air ports.
Of the 53 land ports, 35 will be shut down with effect from Monday 16 March.
Two of the 8 sea ports will be closed for passengers and crew changes.
Effective immediately, all non-essential travel for all spheres of government outside of the Republic is prohibited We further discourage all non-essential domestic travel, particularly by air, rail, taxis and bus.
Secondly, it is essential therefore that we minimise the risk of the spread of this virus by limiting contact amongst groups of people.
While we appreciate the economic, religious, and cultural significance of social and community gatherings, the coronavirus is spread through contact between persons.
As we have said before, the current circumstances require extraordinary measures to curb the spread of infections. Countries that have heeded the call to implement these radical measures, have fared much better than those than do not.
Therefore to encourage social distancing Cabinet has decided on these additional measures:
Gatherings of more than 100 people will be prohibited.
Mass celebrations of upcoming national days such as Human Rights Day and other large government events will be cancelled.
Where small gatherings are unavoidable, organisers will need to put in place stringent measures of prevention and control.
Schools will be closed from Wednesday, 18 March, and will remain closed until after the Easter Weekend.
To compensate, the mid-year school holidays will be shortened by a week.
Government is working closely with colleges, universities and other public facilities such as Parliament, prisons, police stations and military installations to intensify hygiene control.
Visits to all correctional centres are suspend for 30 days with immediate effect.
Government is aware of the confirmed case of a student who has tested positive for the coronavirus at Wits University.
Those who have been in contact with the student will be quarantined.
The Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation is consulting with Vice Chancellors of universities and colleges across the country and will soon be announcing measures in this regard.
We call on all businesses including mining, retail, banking, farming to ensure that they take all necessary measures to intensify hygiene control.
We also call on the management of malls, entertainment centres and other places frequented by large numbers of people to bolster their hygiene control.
Thirdly, to further strengthen our health response: Government is strengthening its surveillance and testing systems.
We are in process of identifying isolation and quarantine sites in each district and metro.
Capacity is being increased at designated hospitals in all provinces.
We are also increasing the capacity of existing contact tracing processes.
We are partnering with the private sector to set up a national tracking, tracing and monitoring system of all people infected with the coronavirus and those they have been in contact with We are undertaking a mass communication campaign on good hygiene and effective prevention behaviour.
Therefore, we are calling on everyone to:
• Wash their hands frequently with soap and water or hand sanitisers for at least 20 seconds;
• Cover their nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with tissue or flexed elbow;
• Avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms.
In essence, we are calling for a change of behaviour amongst all South Africans.
We must minimise physical contact with other people, and, encourage the elbow greeting rather than shaking hands.
Because of the severity of this virus and its rapid spreading, government will make funding available to capacitate the sectors dealing with the national response to the Coronavirus outbreak.
Since the outbreak of this pandemic, our government’s response has been led by an Inter-Ministerial Committee, chaired by the Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize.
We congratulate them on the outstanding work they have done – together with their able support teams – to steer our country through this challenging and un-certain period.
As part of the intensification of this effort, we have decided to establish a National Command Council chaired by the President.
This Command Council will include, amongst others, members of the Inter- Ministerial Committee and will meet three times a week, to coordinate all aspects of our extraordinary emergency response.
My fellow South Africans, In addition to the impact that this pandemic will have on health and wellbeing of our people, and the impact it will have on the day-to-day life of our society, COVID-19 will also have a significant and potentially lasting impact on our economy.
In the last few weeks, we have seen a dramatic decline in economic activity in our major trading partners, a sudden drop in international tourism and severe instability across all global markets.
The anticipated effects of the decline in exports and tourist arrivals will be ex-acerbated by both an increase in infections and the measures we are required to take to contain the spread of the disease.
This will have a potentially severe impact on production, the viability of businesses, job retention and job creation.
Cabinet is therefore in the process of finalising a comprehensive package of interventions to mitigate the expected impact of COVID-19 on our economy.
This package, which will consist of various fiscal and other measures, will be concluded following consultation with business, labour and other relevant institutions.
It is clear that this disease will be extremely disruptive.
Our priority must be to safeguard the health and well-being of all South Africans, to minimise the number of infections and to ensure all those infected get proper treatment.
While we are battling a contagious virus, perhaps the greatest dangers to our country at this time are fear and ignorance.
We must appreciate the extent of the threat that this disease presents, we must accept the anxiety that it causes, but we cannot allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by fear and panic.
We should stop spreading fake and unverified news and create further apprehension and alarm.
While we are facing a medical emergency far graver than we have experienced in recent times, we are not helpless.
We have the knowledge, the means and the resources to fight this disease.
If we act swiftly, with purpose and collectively we can limit the effects of the coronavirus on our people and our country.
Although we may be limiting physical contact, this epidemic has the potential to bring us closer together.
We are responding as a united nation to a common threat.
This national emergency demands cooperation, collaboration and common action.
More than that, it requires solidarity, understanding and compassion.
Those who have resources, those who are healthy, need to assist those who are in need and who are vulnerable.
All the institutions of the state will be mobilised to lead this effort, but, if we are to succeed, every company, trade union, NGO, university, college, school, religious group and taxi association will need to play its part.
We thank those people who suspected they may have been exposed to the virus for coming forward to be tested and for taking measures – such as self-isolation – to prevent further transmission.
We thank the medical teams around the country who are leading our response and are putting the well-being of others ahead of the risks they face themselves.
On Saturday we welcomed 104 of our compatriots who were in Wuhan City, China.
We thank the repatriation team for the task they performed with pride and efficiency to return them to the country and ultimately to their families.
The repatriation has been successful and those who have returned have settled in the quarantine area.
We thank the military health officials, pilots, cabin crew and all those who participated in this exercise.
We thank the leadership and the people of Polokwane and Limpopo for warmly welcoming our fellow South Africans.
We also extend our gratitude to the staff and management of the Ranch Hotel who have accommodated our compatriots and also subjected themselves to quarantine.
We extend our appreciation too to the companies, organisations and individuals who have taken it upon themselves to disseminate information about this virus and to raise awareness.
We thank those businesses that have taken steps to protect their employees, and those unions that have taken steps to protect their members.
Ministers who are at the frontline of coordinating our response to this crisis will be briefing the nation tomorrow, where they will unpack details in relation to the measures we announced tonight.
Fellow South Africans,
This is the most definitive Thuma Mina moment for our country.
I have great trust that our people will respond positively to this call to common action.
Fellow South Africans,
This epidemic will pass.
But it is up to us to determine how long it will last, how damaging it will be, and how long it will take our economy and our country to recover.
It is true that we are facing a grave emergency.
But if we act together, if we act now, and if we act decisively, we will overcome it.
I thank you.
Event: The government of Argentina announced upcoming enhanced screening and quarantine measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Travelers should be prepared for travel restrictions to be put into effect with little or no advance notice. Visit the website of the Argentine Ministry of Health (in Spanish) for additional information on these new measures.
Public statements by Argentine government officials noted a 14-day self-isolation quarantine for anyone, regardless of nationality, arriving in Argentina who has visited a country with sustained transmission, including the United States, all European countries, China, Japan, South Korea, and Iran. Health screening measures are in place at the Buenos Aires International Airport and the Argentine authorities may quarantine individual travelers, including passengers transiting the International Airport, if the Argentine authorities determine the traveler to be a health risk. Failure to comply with the quarantine measure may be a criminal offense. A presidential decree with more details on self-isolation and travel restrictions is pending. Please refer to the Argentine Ministry of Health website (in Spanish) for further details.
Actions to Take:
- Consult the CDC website for the most up-to-date information.
- For the most recent information on what you can do to reduce your risk of contracting COVID-19 please see the CDC’s latest recommendations.
- Visit the COVID-19 crisis page on travel.state.gov for the latest information.
- Check with your airlines or cruise lines regarding any updated information about your travel plans and/or restrictions.
- Visit our Embassy webpage on COVID-19 for information on conditions in Argentina.
- Visit the Department of Homeland Security’s website on the latest travel restrictions to the U.S.
- S. Embassy Buenos Aires, Argentina
Av. Colombia 4300
(C1425GMN) Buenos Aires
(54-11) 5777-4354 (after hours)
- State Department – Consular Affairs
888-407-4747 or 202-501-4444
- Argentina Country Information
- Enroll in Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security updates
- Follow us on Facebook and Twitter
Release Date: March 11, 2020
(WASHINGTON) Today President Donald J. Trump signed a Presidential Proclamation, which suspends the entry of most foreign nationals who have been in certain European countries at any point during the 14 days prior to their scheduled arrival to the United States. These countries, known as the Schengen Area, include: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. This does not apply to legal permanent residents, (generally) immediate family members of U.S. citizens, and other individuals who are identified in the proclamation.
Statement from DHS Acting Secretary Chad F. Wolf:
“Protecting the American people from threats to their safety is the most important job of the President of the United States. The actions President Trump is taking to deny entry to foreign nationals who have been in affected areas will keep Americans safe and save American lives. I applaud the president for making this tough but necessary decision. While these new travel restrictions will be disruptive to some travelers, this decisive action is needed to protect the American public from further exposure to the potentially deadly coronavirus.
“In January and February, the Administration issued similar travel restrictions on individuals who had been in China and Iran. That action proved to be effective in slowing the spread of the virus to the U.S., while public health officials prepared. In the next 48 hours, in the interest of public health, I intend to issue a supplemental Notice of Arrivals Restriction requiring U.S. passengers that have been in the Schengen Area to travel through select airports where the U.S. Government has implemented enhanced screening procedures.”
NEW RULES AT O.R. TAMBO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT FOR BAGS OF IRREGULAR SHAPE
KEMPTON PARK, 25 March 2019 – New rules for checking in bags of irregular shape and size will be applied at O. R. Tambo International Airport from today (25 March 2019).
The new rules are aimed at preventing blockages and breakdowns in the baggage handling system caused by bags that do not have any flat surfaces or that have long straps or grips as per the International Air Transport Association (IATA) guidelines.
Bags that are round or do not have a flat surface of any kind are the largest source of jams in the baggage handling system. These jams can shut down sections of the baggage handling system, delay baggage delivery to aircraft and inconvenience passengers and airlines.
Airport management has been contemplating these new rules since early 2018 and has now decided to adopt baggage conditions similar to those applied at other international airports. Terminal 1 at Dubai International Airport recently instituted the same kind of baggage rules that will now be applied at O. R. Tambo International Airport.
The new rules have been agreed to after extensive consultations with the Airline Operators Committee (AOC) and other bodies representing airlines.
The new baggage rules are:
- Only regular-shaped bags will be allowed at check-in counters;
- This means that the bags must have at least one flat surface to be accepted on the check-in system;
- Round or irregular-shaped bags will not be allowed at check-in counters; and
- Bags with longs straps will not be allowed at check-in counters.