JOHANNESBURG. 13 August 2014 – South African Airways’ (SAA) decision to continue operating in West Africa is consistent with the position adopted by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
The Emergency Committee of the WHO on the Ebola outbreak, held a meeting in Geneva from 06 - 07 August 2014 and concluded that “there should be no general ban on international travel or trade” to that region. Having noted the announcement by the WHO, SAA has stepped up measures aimed at protecting its passengers, crew and ground staff.
The measures include ensuring that the airline has in place vigilant staff that will be on the lookout for passengers who bear specific and visible symptoms associated with the Ebola virus. The staff is adequately trained to manage incidents of this nature, should a need to do so arise.
In cases where a passenger may bear visible symptoms associated with the infection at check in, such passengers will be isolated from the others. This will be followed with passenger interviews and tests conducted by the health authorities in order to determine the possible cause(s) of the symptoms. In the event that there is any doubt regarding the medical condition of any suspected passenger, SAA may elect to deny such passenger/s to board its aircraft.
In cases where passengers develop symptoms after the aircraft has commenced its flight, the crew on board will initiate specific procedures that include isolating such passengers from others on board the aircraft. This will eliminate possible physical interaction of affected passengers with the rest of the passengers. The virus is not airborne and no transmission may occur due to air circulation in the cabin. It is transmitted through infected bodily fluids of a sick passenger. Once isolated, such passengers may not present a risk to fellow passengers as the Ebola virus is not transmitted in the air, but through body fluids such as blood and saliva among others.
Each aircraft has been equipped with special protective gear for crew on board to wear and to enable them to respond to any passengers suspected of having been infected, or displaying the listed symptoms that include sweating, nose bleeding or vomiting. There is also a special biohazard waste disposal kit intended for the safe disposal of waste.
SAA flies to five destinations in West Africa, namely Abidjan (Ivory Coast); Accra (Ghana); Cotonou (Benin); Dakar (Senegal) and Lagos (Nigeria). There is no travel ban to any of these destinations as a result of the outbreak of the virus in that region.
The airline remains committed to ensuring the enforcement of international health protocols associated with air transport.
SAA will remain in communication with its local health authorities and will monitor the situation on a continuous basis. This will enable the airline to constantly do risk assessment and review its decisions should there be developments that warrant such a review.
SAA would like to urge everyone travelling to the West African region to take the necessary precaution and be vigilant.
About South African Airways
South African Airways (SAA), Africa’s most awarded airline, operates from Johannesburg, South Africa, to 38 destinations worldwide.
In its domestic market SAA has an extensive schedule operating 554 flights in total per week between Johannesburg – Cape Town, Durban, East London and Port Elizabeth, from its Johannesburg hub, as well as code-shared flights between Lanseria – Cape Town and Durban. SAA offers more frequencies than any other airline in South Africa.
Regionally, SAA offers 24 destinations across the African continent including Abidjan, Accra, Blantyre, Brazzaville, Cotonou, Dakar, Dar es Salaam, Douala, Entebbe, Harare, Kinshasa, Lagos, Libreville, Lilongwe, Livingstone, Luanda, Lusaka, Maputo, Mauritius, Nairobi, Ndola, Pointe Noire, Victoria Falls and Windhoek.
SAA’s international network creates links to all major continents from South Africa through 10 direct routes and code shares, with daily flights from Johannesburg to London (Heathrow), Frankfurt, Munich, Mumbai, Perth, Hong Kong, Beijing, New York, Washington, and Sao Paulo. SAA has codes share agreements with 29 other airlines across the markets it serves. The airline has extended its code share agreement with Mango, its low cost operator, to also include coastal cities in South Africa (between Johannesburg and Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and George), as well as Johannesburg – Bloemfontein; Cape Town - Bloemfontein and Cape Town - Port Elizabeth.
SAA’s core business is the provision of passenger airline and cargo transport services together with related services, which are provided through SAA and its four wholly owned subsidiaries: SAA Technical; Mango its low cost carrier; Air Chefs, the catering entity of SAA and South African Travel Centre (SATC).
SAA is a Star Alliance member which offers more than 18,500 daily flights to 1,316 airports in 192 countries. SAA is the winner of the 'Best Airline in Africa’ Award in the regional category for twelve consecutive years. Mango and SAA hold the number one and number two successive spots as South Africa’s most on-time airlines.
For more information contact:
Tlali Tlali (Mr)
Mob: +27 82 333 3880