Zimbabwe’s tourism suffered a massive body blow following a decision by South African Airways (SAA), the airline with the most frequent flights into Zimbabwe, to cancel all flights to Victoria Falls and Harare with immediate effect in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
SAA suspended flights into Zimbabwe and other countries until the end of May at the earliest.
A statement said SAA “will immediately suspend all regional and international operations until the end of May in response to a government travel ban aimed at stopping the transmission of the coronavirus (Covid-19).”
“In support of efforts by the government in dealing with this pandemic, and in the best interests of our crew, passengers and the public, we have decided to suspend all international and regional flights until 31, May 2020.
“It is the responsibility of all of us and not just the government to curb further transmission of the virus. Especially because we operate in the high-risk regions,” said SAA Acting CEO, Zuks Ramasia.
With effect from Friday, the South African government issued regulations prohibiting the embarkation and disembarkation of crew and passengers from SAA’s international destinations that are considered high risk.
This meant that passengers on flights from the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom were no longer allowed to disembark in South Africa.
In addition, SAA said it was also suspending flights to Accra (Ghana), Lusaka (Zambia), Harare and Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe), Mauritius, Windhoek (Namibia), Lagos (Nigeria), Entebbe (Uganda).
It also barred flights to Perth (Australia) and Sao Paulo (Brazil) due to the significant reduction in demand for air travel as a result of various travel bans instituted worldwide.
“Notwithstanding the suspension of services in the international and regional markets, we are pleased to indicate that our domestic services are not impacted.
“This means, SAA will continue to operate between Johannesburg and Cape Town,” said Ramasia.
More than 202 people have been confirmed to have contracted the virus in South Africa and in an effort to contain the spread, that country’s government announced a number of measures to stop many people from gathering in one place.