Flight Centre Andrew Stark
Flight Centre's Andrew Stark. Photo supplied.

JOHANNESBURG – Following the announcement today that Emirates will be temporarily suspending flights to and from South Africa from Saturday – 16 January – until and including 28 January 2021, the Flight Centre Travel Group (FCTG) South Africa has issued a statement to reassure its stranded Emirates customers that Flight Centre will get them home.

Emirates made the unexpected announcement earlier today that they would be suspending all their flights to and from South Africa for operational reasons.

New 501.V2 variant blamed for SA’s high cases and flight suspensions

It is presumed that the airline – based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – has taken the decision, like several other countries who have temporarily banned SA flights, in a bid to prevent the further spread of the highly contagious 501.V2 Covid variant which was discovered by scientists in SA, and which is currently driving the high rate of infection in SA.

Last night, SA’s Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize reported a new record for the most COVID-19 deaths in a single day since the outbreak – 806 lost their lives in SA on Wednesday, bringing the total death toll to over 35,000. The figure is believed to be much higher, with the SA Medical Research Council reporting a record 10,907 “excess deaths” in just one week – between 30 December and 5 January. The SAMRC says a “significant proportion” of these mortalities are likely attributable to Covid-19, with patients dying before being diagnosed.


Emirates said in a statement on Thursday:

Emirates flights to/from South Africa will temporarily be suspended from Saturday 16 January to 28 January 2021 due to operational reasons…

Customers holding tickets with final destinations in South Africa from 16 January to 28 January will not be accepted for travel at their point of origin. Emirates regrets any inconvenience caused. Affected customers should contact their travel agent or Emirates contact centre for rebooking options.

Flight Centre commits to bring passengers home safely over next two weeks

This evening Flight Centre said Emirates had put no re-accommodation policies in place for travellers at the time of publishing this release, and committed to getting all its stranded passengers home safely over the next two weeks.

“This is unfortunately a reality of the world we live in,” says Andrew Stark, FCTG Managing Director Middle East and Africa. “Travel has become incredibly fluid and situations can change at a moment’s notice. Travel companies need to adapt quickly with flexibility and empathy.”

Highlighting the importance (and relief!) of booking with a reputable and reliable travel company, Stark said: “Our commitment is to always ensure that we look after our customers. After all, that is why they book with us – for the peace of mind that should the unforeseen happen, we have their back.”

Flight Centre Experts will be making contact with their affected Emirates customers, and customers can also contact the Customer Experience team on 0877405080.

Flight Centre experts can be contacted on 0877405000 to assist with any travel related questions.