Airlines require COVID-19 PCR tests


Lorne Philpot

The additional health and safety measures to be followed are not the only new surprises for passengers taking scheduled flights during the coronavirus pandemic. Given that the additional protocols are in the interests of keeping passengers, crew and airport employees safe, it is understandable.

Airlines have varying policies with regards to the carriage of passengers. With the new strain of the virus detected in several countries including South Africa, some airlines are now listing additional requirements for passengers who wish to travel with them.


Emirates was one of the first airlines that required South African passengers to present negative COVID-19 PCR test results in order to be allowed to board the airline’s flights.

This requirement makes flying with Emirates Airlines more costly since passengers must shell out for a PCR test in addition to the cost of the plane ticket.


Countries like China have punitive measures in place for airlines that transport COVID-19 positive passengers on their flights. China’s “circuit breaker” policy was launched in June as a means of limiting infected passengers from arriving in China.

The policy also restricts the number of flights arriving in China. Several airlines were issued with flight bans for carrying passengers who tested positive on arrival. Air India, Etihad Airways, British Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Aeroflot and Sri Lankan Airlines have all faced flight bans of one to nine weeks for carrying infected passengers to various cities in China.

Initially, few airlines required PCR test certificates from their passengers since many countries require passengers to present these on arrival, or do not require them at all, if passengers have to complete a quarantine on arrival.


Turkish Airlines, which suspended all flights to and from South Africa in response to Turkey closing its borders to South Africa due to the new COVID-19 variant being detected here, has also implemented a PCR test certificate requirement for all passengers.

From 28 December, all passengers flying with Turkish Airlines must present a negative COVID-19 PCR test before flying. When the airline resumes flights to South Africa, it will be compulsory for South African passengers to present a negative PCR test result before flying with Turkish Airlines.


Despite the travel ban, Lufthansa German Airlines is still operating flights to Johannesburg and Cape Town. However, the airline is currently unable to carry South African nationals on its flights due to the travel ban that Germany placed on South Africans last week.

The airline’s CEO, Carsten Spohr, said Lufthansa was set to place PCR testing requirements on passengers from certain destinations. South Africa is likely to be one of these, given the new strain of the virus is prevalent here.

These changes will affect South Africans who travel with either Lufthansa or Turkish Airlines after the two airlines offer flights to South African passengers once again.

Courtesy: The South African


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