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Deal to repatriate SA citizens from Egypt hits a snag

The new snag is related to SAA's flight route rights and landing allocations, Dirco said.
The new snag is related to SAA's flight route rights and landing allocations, Dirco said.
Image: SAA

Hopes that South Africans stranded in Egypt as a result of the national lockdown would return to SA yesterday were dashed after plans to arrange a flight for their repatriation did not materialise.

Last Wednesday, the department of international relations and co-operation (Dirco) sent a message to about 42 South Africans in Egypt informing them that it was planning to enter into negotiations with one airline in SA to help with their evacuation.

However, this would only be possible if they made a commitment to pay between R7,000 and R10,000 per person, the embassy said.

Embassy staff were at pains to point out that this communication should not be interpreted as if the plan was a "done deal" as negotiations were in process. The flight to SA was planned for yesterday.

However, the situation changed on Saturday when the embassy in Egypt sent another message to the stranded South Africans informing them that arrangements for their departure would change.

"It is something beyond the control of Dirco HQ. The new snag is related to SAA's flight route rights and landing allocations. What Dirco is now working on is the option of a chartered flight to pick up the stranded passengers in Egypt and take them to the next neighbouring country where SAA does not face the same limitations," the message read.

The message said in terms of the earlier arrangement, South Africans in Egypt were going to be joined in Cairo by other South Africans brought in by charter from neighbouring countries.

"Cairo was meant to be the hub for all of them. The implication of this latest development is that the departure on April 14 is no longer feasible...

"One thing we should not discount is that the Egyptian government might still impose a more stringent lockdown which will prevent movement between cities.

"They must rest assured that Dirco is doing everything possible to expedite the process of their departure," the message read.

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