South Africans won’t be able to fly directly to the island of Zanzibar due to Mango Airlines’ cash crunch.
Instead, travellers will now need to catch at least a connecting flight from Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar es Salaam.
Zanzibar doesn’t require foreign tourists to quarantine and remains a popular holiday destination for South Africans amid the pandemic.
Mango Airlines, the only carrier with a direct route between South Africa and Zanzibar,
has suspended its flights to the island amid severe financial constraints.
The Indian Ocean island is a popular holiday destination for travel-restricted South Africans.
I does not require visitors to quarantine.
Mango, the low-cost subsidiary of embattled national carrier, South African Airways (SAA),
is expected to ground all flights in May due to a lack of funding.
The cash crunch emanates from SAA’s ongoing business rescue process which has left Mango’s creditors in the lurch for the last six months.
The department of public enterprises is reportedly trying to divert R2.7 billion of the
R10.5 billion allocated to SAA’s business rescue programme to the national carrier’s
subsidiaries, including SAA Technical, AirChefs, and Mango.
Without these funds, Mango is unable to continue flying.
The domestic carrier, founded in 2006, currently flies to Bloemfontein, Cape Town,
Durban, East London, George, OR Tambo and Port Elizabeth.
Mango launched its first international flight in 2013, taking over the route from OR Tambo
in Johannesburg to Zanzibar which was previously serviced by 1time Airline.
Shortly after confirming that flights would be disrupted in May,
Mango announced the temporary suspension of its Zanzibar route.
Mango’s last scheduled flight to Zanzibar will depart on Tuesday.
“We’ll be flying empty to go and fetch our customers who are already in Zanzibar,” said Mango spokesperson Benediction Zubane.
“We’ve reached out to all our customers via tour operators and travel agents.”
While Mango is the only airline which services direct flights between South Africa and
Zanzibar, there are – usually – local and continental carriers which fly directly to
Tanzania’s largest city, Dar es Salaam.
From Dar es Salaam, a flight to Zanzibar’s Abeid Amani Karume International Airport takes just over an hour.
Amid the current coronavirus-induced travel restrictions and limited flight frequencies,
Airlink is the only airline which offers regular direct flights from South Africa to Dar es Salaam.
Air Tanzania offers daily flights covering the 100km hop between Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar.
Zanzibar has remained a favourite among South African travellers looking for an island
getaway during the Covid-19 pandemic.
While other popular destinations like Mauritius and the Seychelles continue to bar South
African visitors, Zanzibar – and Tanzania as a whole – has no travel ban on foreign tourists.
Visitors will need to complete a “travellers’ surveillance form” but will not be subjected to any mandatory quarantine in Zanzibar.