Cape Town - Air China has cancelled the launch of its much-anticipated direct
flights to South Africa.
Air China spokesperson Jane Hu told
Traveller24, "The flight has been cancelled due to xenophobic attacks last
month. China did issue a travel warning to our
citizens not to travel to South Africa at that stage.
"People are worried about this country,” said
According to Hu, SA's revision of its visa rules also affected the
airline's decision. On 1 June, children under the age of 18 years who are
travelling to or from South Africa will be required to have an unabridged birth
"It's not only the children's policy but also
finger printer (Biometric data) may cause more trouble in China. As you may
know, most countries offer more loose visa policies for Chinese (citizens), as
China is a huge market."
SA's requirement for all visa applications to be
done in person in order to submit biometric data has been problematic due
to the lack of visa facilitation centres in China, resulting in potential
visitors needing to travel to Beijing and Shanghai in order to apply. In a
recent statement in Parliament, Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom confirmed he was
concerned about the decline in visitor number from South Africa’s key source
markets, including China.
READ: Tourism minister concerned about visa rules
While the direct flight has been postponed until 29
October, Hu confirmed the airline would be placing an alert message
regarding the unabridged birth certificate requirements on Air China's booking system in order to remind passengers
"We will have a team here for our new flight
and will have a policy in place, (for) now we don't have our own flight yet.
Airports Company South Africa Spokesperson (Acsa)
Colin Naidoo confirmed to Traveller24 that Air China had cancelled their slots
to South Africa for
the season running from 31 August to 23 October.
was expected to start operating a direct route to Johannesburg from Beijing in
May 2015, following an announcement that SAA had cancelled its R1bn loss making Beijing route as
part of its Long Term Turnaround strategy and entered into a code share
agreement with Air China in order to strengthen connectivity between the two
When asked how this affected SAA's plans, SAAspokesperson Tlali Tali said," We will, through Hong Kong and
other code share partners, continue to offer good connections into
Hu echoed the sentiment saying, "We are
working with SAA for more code share flights."