Air travel to South Africa is slowly recovering

Posted by David Henning on 13 January 2022

Following the discovery of the Omicron variant on November 24 by South African scientists, 90 countries imposed travel bans on flights from South Africa, which saw bookings drop by 85%. But, with the easing of restrictions, travel to South Africa is slowly recovering.

airport waiting

After the huge drop in flights to South Africa in December, recent data released by International Air Transport Association (IATA) revealed that the situation is starting to improve.

According to the report, the number of tickets bought for travel to, from, and within South Africa dropped drastically from around 45% to just 7% of 2019 levels in the first week of December.

This had adverse consequences, where the tourism and hospitality sector lost R1 billion in cancelled bookings from the UK alone after their ban was implemented. President Cyril Ramaphosa slammed the widespread ban as ‘unscientific.’

As international bookings to South Africa dipped at the beginning of December, revenue from ticket sales became negative. This means that airlines were making no profit as they were refunding more passengers than tickets sold, as travellers were cancelling trips without rebooking.

The last time airlines recorded net negative bookings were in the period from March to April 2020, during South Africa’s hard lockdown.

According to the IATA report, the situation has improved slightly, as flights to South Africa rose to 65% below 2019 levels, as travel restrictions are lifted.

Travel bookings to South Africa are yet to recover to levels recorded in November, which was around 40% below bookings in the same period in 2019.

Picture: Pexels


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