SIA converts some S'pore-S. Africa flights to cargo-only in light of Omicron variant

SIA passengers queueing to check in for a flight at O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Nov 26, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - Singapore Airlines (SIA) has converted some passenger services to South Africa into cargo-only flights after the detection of new coronavirus variant Omicron triggered global concerns and bans on travellers from several African countries.

These are flights between Singapore and Johannesburg and Cape Town, SIA told The Straits Times on Saturday (Nov 27).

Customers affected by the changes will receive a notification of their flight or booking cancellation.

Those who make bookings directly with SIA can contact the local SIA office for assistance. People are advised to contact travel agents or partner airlines if they have made bookings through them.

"We remain guided by the relevant authorities and medical experts and will work closely with them to make adjustments, where necessary, in order to ensure the health and safety of our customers," said the SIA spokesman.

On Friday, the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced that all travellers with recent travel history to seven countries in Africa, including South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe, will be barred from entering or transiting through Singapore from 11.59pm on Saturday.

This also applies to those who have obtained prior approval for entry into Singapore, as long as they have been in those countries in the past 14 days.

Returning Singapore citizens and permanent residents will have to serve a 10-day stay-home notice at dedicated facilities.

The Omicron variant was first identified in South Africa and appears to have been responsible for a sudden surge of Covid-19 cases there.

The World Health Organisation designated it a variant of concern on Friday, as scientists race to find out more about the mutated variant and whether current vaccines can counter it.

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