Published On: March 9th, 2022By Categories: Feature1.7 min read

Airlink, a privately owned South African airline, has voiced its frustration with Madagascar’s decision to ban all flights between South Africa and the Indian Ocean island for up to three months.

The airline reacted to a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) issued by Madagascar on March 3 that stated: “Covid-19 flight restriction: All flights to and from South Africa are prohibited”. The ban came into effect on March 3 and lasts until June 3, 2022, the NOTAM reads.

Madagascar had announced earlier it was re-opening for international commercial flights from March 5, 2022, following the island’s prolonged isolation due to COVID-19.

“We are appealing to the governments of both countries to expeditiously resolve any issues and differences that may have led to this situation so that relations can be normalised and we can restore our usual air services connecting the two markets,” urged Airlink Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Rodger Foster.

He said the ban and absence of any explanation by authorities in Antananarivo would be a source of great frustration for anyone wanting to travel between the two countries.

“In the past few days since Madagascar said it would be re-open for travel, we have received significant interest from people in South Africa, the island nation, our neighbouring countries, and in North America, who are keen to book tickets. This restriction on flights will be a major disappointment for everyone who wants to travel for business leisure and reconnect with relatives and friends they have been unable to visit for the past two years. Similarly, it is a setback for trade between the two countries.”

Before the pandemic, Airlink operated flights between Johannesburg O.R. Tambo, Antananarivo, and Nosy-Be. It intends to resume services on those routes as soon as the ban has been lifted.

According to its website, Air Madagascar (MD, Antananarivo) only offers international flights to Paris CDG at present.

South Africa recorded 1,853 new COVID-19 cases and two deaths on March 3, representing a 6.5% positivity rate.

For its part, Madagascar recorded zero new cases with an average new infection rate of 32 new cases over the past week on March 3, 2022.

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