Dubai has barred entry to any traveller who has been in South Africa within the 10 days before their arrival. Emirates recently cancelled its flights to and from South Africa, and cited operational reasons for the cancellations. The airline said at the time that flights would resume on January 28 and encouraged agents and direct passengers to rebook their trips to travel beyond this date.

However, the new restriction has raised doubts on whether Emirates flights to South Africa will actually be resuming on January 28.

Otto de Vries, Ceo of Asata, expressed frustration from the restriction. He doubted that the restriction was simply Covid- related and claimed there could be more at play.

“We are extremely frustrated by Emirates’ failure to give a clear explanation of why flights to South Africa were cancelled. Agents need to communicate with their clients and amend their bookings to involve as little disruption as possible. This can only be done if suppliers respect the travel trade enough to communicate openly and honestly with us. Telling us that flights are banned ‘due to operational reasons’ when there is far more at play, is not acceptable,” Otto said.

Otto asked Emirates to urgently provide the trade with answers as it will significantly affect the operations of their supplier clients.

“Where does this leave our customers and how do we have the confidence that the schedules will resume on January 28. If the flights do not resume, what workable re-accommodation options will you offer our clients?” Otto expressed.

“We understand that the COVID situation is fluid but this heightens the need to work together collegially as an industry,” he added.

Owner of Travel VIP, Paula Varges Martini, also confirmed that no communication from Emirates had been received relating to the expected resumption of flights to South Africa on January 28th.

Other UAE have also halted flights to South Africa. This includes Etihad Airways which is based in Abu Dhabi. They announced cancellation of South Africa until 28th March 2021.