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The State of Disaster declared by President Cyril Ramaphosa saw South Africa implementing the national lockdown on 26 March 2020. Thousands of South Africans found themselves stranded as a result of the lockdowns announced in many countries and the almost complete cessation of flights. Since then, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) has facilitated the repatriation of over 11, 000 South Africans stranded abroad. Hundreds more have also returned through land borders from neighbouring countries. Dirco continues to facilitate the repatriation of South Africans stranded in various cities across the world, it says. CemAir, founded by former pilot Miles van der Molen, and SAA are among the airlines that have assisted with the repatriation of South Africans. – Nadya Swart
CemAir media statement:
CemAir proudly welcomes 80 South Africans home from Iraq and Jordan on special repatriation flight 5Z019 which touched down at OR Tambo International Airport on Wednesday morning 8 July 2020. Stranded for nearly 4 months some South Africans found themselves in deteriorating circumstances, sharing accommodation, and relying on the charity of others for their survival.
CemAir’s CRJ900 90-seat jet dispatched from Johannesburg on Monday 6 July 2020 stopping en-route in Entebbe (Uganda), Khartoum (Sudan), Amman (Jordan), Erbil (Iraq) and Basra (Iraq) for passenger embarkation and disembarkation, technical stops and crew changes and returning via Djibouti and Entebbe to OR Tambo International Airport. Thank you to the flight crew, cabin crew, flight operations and ground crew for your professional and efficient conduct. We are proudly CemAir.
Passengers will now spend the next 14 days in quarantine before reuniting with their families in South Africa.
During this time of hardship so many people have stepped forward to offer compassion and assistance when most needed. One of many such humanitarians is Mr Rudi Conley of the SA High Commission in Uganda who spent the entire night with departing passengers at Entebbe Airport when they were forced to check-in 12 hours early due to a Covid-19 curfew. Such acts of empathy and generosity restore hope and faith in humankind.
The CemAir team would like to extend thanks to all involved and we offer a special thank-you to the South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation, Ambassador Saley (SA’s Ambassador to Jordan), Ambassador Naidoo, SA Department of Transport, Andries Ntjane, Owen Rikhotso and Felix Gosher who helped arrange and support this very complicated flight. The CemAir team also extends a special note of thanks to those individuals who donated toward the flight. You helped give these people a very special gift.
CemAir has operated repatriation flights to and from 20 countries across the African Continent and Middle East during the Covid-19 pandemic, repatriating more than 1000 stranded South Africans back home.
Aircraft routing – Iraq repatriation flight
CemAir’s CRJ-900 aircraft.
Arrival at OR Tambo International Airport Wednesday 8 July 2020
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