(Posted 03rd March 2022)
Airlink, South Africa’s independent airline, expressed disappointed overMadagascar’s decision to ban all flights between South Africa and the Indian Ocean island for up to three months as have other airlines too. Some aviation pundits called the decision a slap in the face of the African Union’s effort to open up the airspace across Africa at the expense of home carriers versus international airlines – which are often seen as getting traffic rights including fifth freedom rights literally thrown at them.
A few days ago Madagascar’s government announced that it was re-opening its borders as from the 05th of March 2022, following a prolonged period of isolation in its response to COVID-19. Earlier today a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) was issued by Madagascar today which says “All flights to and from South Africa are prohibited”.
“This restriction on flights will be a major disappointment for everyone who wants to travel for business, leisure and to reconnect with relatives and friends who they have been unable to visit for the past two years. Similarly, it is a setback for trade 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 ban and absence of any explantion by authorities in Antananarivo will be a source of great frustration for them,” said Airlink CEO and Managing Director, Rodger Foster whose airline had already prepared to resume flights.
“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 normalalised and we can restore our usual air services connecting the two markets,” added Mr. Foster.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic Airlink operated flights between Johannesburg, Antananarivo and Nose Be. It intends to resume services on those routes as soon as the ban on flights between South Africa and Madagascar has been lifted.