On Sunday, Qatar Airways abruptly canceled flights to South Africa and four other African countries, just days after restoring bookings after a brief halt due to Omicron variant fears.
Despite the fact that Qatar Airways has continued to travel to South Africa despite the Omicron outbreak, passengers are not allowed to board in South Africa, and the flights return to the Middle East empty.
The tourism minister of South Africa congratulated Qatar Airways for announcing plans to resume passenger flights from Cape Town, Durban, and Johannesburg on Friday. Qatar Airways, on the other hand, had changed those plans and stopped bookings again in just two days.
Qatar Airways praised tourism minister Lindiwe Sisulu in a tweet, adding the airline was looking forward to resuming outbound flights with up to 21 weekly flights.
Qatar Airways, on the other hand, said it would “continue to monitor the situation on a daily basis” in a statement on its website. Until further notice, passenger flights are prohibited from South Africa, Angola, Mozambique, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
Qatar Airways did not explain why it decided to cancel the flight at the last minute. Qatar Airways’ ongoing suspension aligns it with competitors Emirates and Etihad Airways, which were also compelled to cancel outbound flights from South Africa on November 29 after receiving directives from UAE government officials.
Travel bans and other “knee jerk” responses to the Omicron danger have been slammed by the South African government. The World Health Organization has endorsed South Africa and called for an end to draconian travel bans that will do little to stop the Omicron variant from spreading.
The variation has already spread to at least 57 nations, and it is expected to supplant Delta in a matter of months.