South Africa: Stranded U.S. Citizens Fly Home From South Africa


As US citizens flew home from South Africa on Thursday, other embassies have also been conducting repatriation flights for stranded citizens. The first Air France/KLM flight for French, Dutch and other European Union citizens, left Cape Town on Wednesday and another was to leave Johannesburg on Thursday.

The first two charter flights carrying stranded US citizens home left on Thursday from Durban via Cape Town and from Johannesburg.

A third flight is expected to leave Cape Town on Friday, US embassy spokesperson Rob Mearkle said, adding that the three flights all bound for Washington DC would repatriate more than 900 Americans.

They had been stuck in South Africa, along with thousands of other foreign travellers, by the sudden imposition on 26 March of travel restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The US embassy avoided Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula's strict ban on foreign aircrews entering South Africa by chartering Ethiopian Airlines aircraft for the repatriation flights. This meant that the crews only had to fly short incoming flights from Addis Ababa before leaving South Africa, and so avoided the international aviation rules that aircrews must sleep at least one night between long-haul flights.

Mearkle said the US was grateful...

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