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Happiness soars as domestic airlines return to the skies

Safair and Mango say ‘welcome aboard’ as domestic flights resume. Check here if you qualify to fly

15 June 2020 - 19:08 By Elizabeth Sleith
Domestic air travel between Joburg, Cape Town and Durban is now possible - for those who qualify.
Domestic air travel between Joburg, Cape Town and Durban is now possible - for those who qualify.
Image: 123RF/Tyler Olson.

Safair and Mango airlines started flying again on Monday for the first time since late March, when operations were suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Both companies took a moment to mark the occasion on their social media channels.

Safair reassured travellers about the safety measures in place, tweeting: “We've been preparing our aircraft for this day and we've implemented all necessary precautions to ensure your safety. We can’t wait to have you on board.”

Mango, meanwhile, shared video footage of Captain Kyle Viljoen's “welcome aboard” — what he called the airline's “inaugural post-corona flight”.

It's a great, nostalgic listen for anyone who hasn’t flown in a while and would like to pretend that’s what they’re about to do.

Both airlines now have scheduled flights to Joburg, Cape Town and Durban, but the rules are strict when it comes to who can actually fly under lockdown level 3. You don't need supporting papers to book a flight, but you will need them when you get to the airport.

Who qualifies?

People may travel for the purposes of “business” or if they are:

  • moving to a new place of residence;
  • caring for an immediate family member;
  • MPs performing oversight responsibilities;
  • learners and students travelling to schools or institutions;
  • attending a funeral;
  • transporting mortal remains;
  • obtaining medical treatment; or
  • returning home after quarantine or isolation.

What do you need to fly?

Each reason for travelling entails different requirements in terms of paperwork and admin. For the most common, business travel, you will need a letter signed by the head of the business and stamped with the company stamp.

Most other reasons require a visit to a police station or a magistrate's court and an accompanying form.

Mango has the various forms here and Safair has the forms here. Remember, you won't even be allowed to enter the airport without them — and a valid ID.

You will also need to fill out and bring with you a signed declaration of health, as required by the department of health — you can find it here. Masks are also non-negotiable, and you'll need a boarding pass (on Whatsapp or printed at home).

Strict safety measures are also in place at the airports — so much so that Mango recommends passengers arrive two and a half hours early for their flight “due to the extra regulatory and safety protocols required”. 

What about the middle seat?

There are no government restrictions on the number of people allowed on board an aircraft — except that there must be an empty row at the back to isolate anyone who becomes ill on board. In other words, there is no automatic blocking off of the middle seat and the airlines are free to fill up if they can.

As Safair explains on its website, according to research, blocking the middle seat is “not a significantly effective measure in actually preventing the spread of Covid-19 from one person to another, as long as other important measures are being implemented”. It also “severely constrains an airline's ability to earn”.

Those who still want this “peace of mind”, however, can block the middle seat for an extra R750. Mango has no such provision.