South African Airways (SAA) secured approvals during the South African national lockdown, which saw the closure of borders, to operate repatriation flights to and from several international destinations. The airline further encourages the use of its portal for those interested in the repatriation flights. This is after SAA approached government to grant a special dispensation to continue to operate international repatriation flights due to continued demand.

“We require an expression of interest by passengers to determine the commercial and logistical viability of operating these flights. Due to numerous enquiries that we have received through various channels, including our social media platforms and our foreign missions, we decided to open a portal to gauge the real traveller interest,” says Tebogo Tsimane, acting General Manager for Operations.

This initiative has been approved by government.

At this stage, SAA has received approvals to operate the following flights:  

1. 01 June Washington D.C Johannesburg
2. 06 June Johannesburg Dubai
3. 06 June Johannesburg Brisbane
4. 08 June Bahrain Johannesburg
5. 08 June Dubai Johannesburg
6. 09 June Brisbane Johannesburg
7. 09 June Johannesburg Moscow
8. 09 June Johannesburg Frankfurt
9. 11 June Frankfurt Johannesburg
10. 11 June Moscow Johannesburg
11. 12 June Johannesburg Bangkok
12. 12 June Johannesburg Hanoi
13. 13 June Johannesburg Sao Paolo
14. 14 June Hanoi Johannesburg
15. 14 June Bangkok Johannesburg
16. 15 June Sao Paolo Johannesburg
17. 15 June Johannesburg Beijing
18. 17 June Beijing Johannesburg
19. 17 June Johannesburg Washington D.C
20. 20 June Washington D.C Johannesburg


A registration portal has been created and is available on the airline’s website, or by clicking on the following direct hyperlink

“Registration on the portal determines the viability of the flight and once the demand supports the operational viability of the flight, an SAA staff member will contact interested customers to book their flight and issue the tickets,” Tsimane explains.

There are specific requirements per destination and customers are encouraged to familiarise themselves with those requirements for compliance with the regulations and to stand a chance to be able to travel.

Some of the requirements and conditions include the following:

  • Payment of ticket via prescribed method of payment (electronic bank transfers).
  • Baggage allowance for a charter flight is standard two (2) pieces at 23kg per piece and one (1) x 7kg for hand luggage per passenger.
  • All passengers must carry their own PPE/masks for the flight.
  • No one who has tested positive for Covid-19 will be allowed to board the flight.
  • A refund will be provided if passengers are not approved to travel or you show symptoms of Covid-19 on the day of departure.
  • Passengers are responsible for their own onward connections if applicable.
  • No pets and live animals will be allowed. However, guide dogs will be allowed.

“Registration on the portal does not constitute a reservation for the flight, it is only a record of customers’ interest. We urge customers not to make any payments into the SAA bank account until they have been confirmed by SAA and received a booking reference which they will use to make payment,” concludes Tsimane.

The airline will update its registration portal on a regular basis to include new destinations once approvals have been secured.

SAA has operated 56 repatriation flights to six continents since 3 April to date, and safely reunited 11 367 passengers with their families and loved ones during the lockdown. In addition, the airline transferred 1 000 024 kilograms of combined import and export cargo during the same period.