There will be some travel permitted from June 1 when parts of South Africa move to level three of lockdown but many are still speculating about the specific allowances.
At a parliamentary portfolio committee on transport on Monday (May 18), Airports Company South Africa said it was finalising its plans in consultation with the Department of Transport and the Civil Aviation Authority, for a return to limited domestic air travel in level three on June 1.
FlySafair Chief Marketing Officer, Kirby Gordon, says: “We are still awaiting specific details on what kind of flying will be permitted under level three, but indications are that air travel will only be permitted under very specific circumstances.”
He says the expectation is that the regulations will limit demand too severely to make scheduled operations feasible. The airline is, however, hopeful that flying may be feasible from level two onwards.
Travel Counsellors South Africa GM, Mladen Lukic, says information is not clear at this stage but he expects that there will be some ability for South Africans to travel, even if it is limited.
His stance is that there will be inter-municipal travel but there is no clarity about inter-provincial travel. For that, people will likely need official permission.
“In my view, there are a limited number of airlines that are likely to operate domestic flights. There are many airlines that are in administration and while the process is ongoing, they may not be able to feasibly operate under level three,” says Lukic.
He is concerned that the three main centres where air travel is most viable in the country (Gauteng, KwaZulu Natal and the Western Cape) are not guaranteed to move to level three because they are also COVID-19 epicentres.
“If they do, the expectation is that when air travel properly starts it will be most concentrated at airports in these areas,” he says.
Andrew Stark, MD for the MEA region of the Flight Centre Travel Group, says everyone is in the same boat when it comes to information being shared by government.
"I don't think level three will allow any local leisure travel. Our understanding is limited domestic routes for approved essential business travel. Level two starts to open up interprovincial business and leisure travel," he points out.