US passengers arriving in South Africa by air are stranded ( not permitted to disembark) and must return home because of the corona virus.
Those who landed in Johannesburg by plane on Friday will fight for a flight on Friday evening after canceling the return flight.
This affects travelers from the US flying with South African Airways from New York and with an airplane from the Atlanta Delta.
South Africa on Wednesday banned travelers from countries identified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as particularly vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus, particularly in the United States. Great Britain, Italy and China.
A South African Airways Airbus A350-900, which had arrived from New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport,( as well as aircraft from China Air, Italy’s Alitalia and several other airlines)was redirected to an area far from the terminals and surrounded by Police and on board public health officials.
South African and permanent residents were the only passengers allowed to disembark after being checked ‘carefully’ by masked officers on board.
Several Americans on board the JFK flight are said to have held furious protests against the travel ban and prospect of a 16-hour flight to New York.
The Johannesburg OR Tambo Airport Authority has issued a statement: “Foreigners should not disembark (from these aircraft). The aircraft will be housed in an isolated bay, with all officials ensuring appropriate care.” “We are working very carefully with the airline to ensure that foreigners return to their country of origin.”
These passengers may not find it easy to return to New York, as just a few hours after the JFK plane landed, South African Airways immediately canceled all international flights effective May 31 due to COVID. -19 viruses and their impact on passenger yields.
Attempts to find out what happened to US passengers who were denied entry were unsuccessful. Bashmp3 turned to South African Airways for comments, but no additional explanation was offered.
Delta is the only other airline flying directly from South Africa to the United States. BashMp3 was made to understand that their last flight to Johannesburg would start in two days on March 22.
With the end of direct flights to the United States, there is now a wave of American business and leisure travelers trying to return to the United States indirectly. This is worrisome, since the logical alternative is usually to go home through Europe. Since the United States bans flights from Europe, Americans may have to fly much longer than 24 hours from the moment the door is shut and opens on the platform in the United States.
There are a few questions: How did airport officials in countries like the United States allow passengers to board from those countries when the no-fly time was known?
Some say it is the fault of the South African government. South African Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said at a news conference on Wednesday that although the ban was introduced on that day, the government will ensure that travelers end their journey in the middle of next week. However, hundreds of people were left stranded at Johannesburg airport on Friday.
It is also alleged that the United States Department of State is not giving the right advice to those who want to travel to South Africa. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the entry ban on Sunday, and his Secretary of Transportation said on Monday that citizens of countries, including the United States, that were previously able to enter South Africa have been visa-free for 90 days and now require a visa – and government does not want to issue a visa yet. However, the advisory page of the State Department of South Africa, five days later, states that US citizens do not need a visa to come.
South Africa has placed this ban undoubtedly because at least 182 of the 202 COVID-19 infections, are due to recent arrivals on international flights rather than local transmission. So far, not only has the country not recorded one death, but currently none of the hospitalized patients are in so poor a condition as to enter the intensive care unit. Patient Zero, the first person diagnosed with infection after returning from a skiing holiday in Italy, was released from hospital on Thursday.