The UK government has announced that it has engaged airline Virgin Atlantic to carry out repatriation flights for British citizens caught in South Africa by the latter country’s current lockdown. On average, some 430 000 British tourists visit South Africa each year.
The first such flight will leave from Cape Town on April 9. Subsequent flights will depart from both Cape Town and Johannesburg.
These flights are for tourists and other short-term British visitors to South Africa. Priority will be given to those who are at risk and who are most vulnerable.
“We have been working hard to support British people in South Africa and around the world return to the UK, prioritising the most vulnerable,” reported UK Africa Minister James Duddridge. “Starting on Thursday, these charter flights will see hundreds of British people return home and I would like to express my thanks to the South African government for their help throughout this process.”
“This has been a worrying time for many British travellers in South Africa,” pointed out British High Commissioner to South Africa Nigel Casey. “This is why the UK has been working round the clock to support British travellers who wish to return to the UK. I am delighted to announce today the first of seven charter flights from South Africa and know this will be welcome news for those wishing to get back home. My team and I here in South Africa will continue to support British travellers to get back home on these charter flights, focussing in particular on those in greatest need.”
The Virgin Atlantic website reported that the first flight from Johannesburg will depart on April 11. It is not yet known what aircraft the airline will employ for these flights. The Virgin Atlantic fleet is composed of Airbus A330-200, A330-300, A350-1000 and Boeing 747-400 and 787-9 airliners.