The first repatriation flight for foreigners caught in South Africa by the country’s lockdown (to counter the Covid-19 pandemic), allowed by amended regulations announced by Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula on March 31, took off on the morning of April 1, the Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) reported. It was operated by the Chilean-Brazilian airline group Latam, and embarked 321 passengers for São Paulo, Brazil.
“We are very grateful to our staff and the various role players that moved quickly overnight to ensure the successful facilitation of the repatriation flight,” said Acsa group executive: corporate affairs Refentse Shinners. “We are especially appreciative of the work done by officials of the Brazilian Embassy who managed the process exceptionally well and ensured that the passengers were safely transferred to the airport by bus.”
She added that there had been no significant concerns regarding the operational arrangements concerning the flight. The flight was operated by Latam to and from Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport.
Flying from São Paulo to Johannesburg, the airliner carried 32 people, comprising a duty crew of 16 plus a relief crew of 16, travelling as passengers. While on the ground at OR Tambo, the relief crew took over the aircraft and their colleagues became passengers for the return flight. None of the crew disembarked from the aircraft while it was on the ground in South Africa.