Transit visas are issued to non-South African citizens passing through the country en route to its neighbouring countries. The rules around transit visas stopped in 2015 and allowed foreigners from connecting flights to bypass immigration and access the plane taking them to the neighbouring county.
Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said this has led to an increase in illegal activities. Earlier this year Fahim Kazi was arrested while trying to leave the country. His passport however stated that his name was Lebohang Ndlovu, or “Lebohang from Bangladesh”.
Tourism Business Council Of South Africa CEO Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa says the announcement from Motsoaledi means that fewer people will come to South Africa through a connecting flight.
This is potentially bad news for airlines as it will impact what is called the load factor. Load factor is the measurement of the percentage of available seats on a plane that has been filled with passengers. A high load factor indicates that an airline has sold most of its available seats and is preferred over a low load factor which would indicate a lower number of sold seats.
Tshivhengwa explained, “In terms of the load factor it's a negative. It means that airlines may change the way they go. Point in case if you look at the likes of emirates...they're not coming to South Africa but they will arrive in Johannesburg but they're going elsewhere, it means that they may reduce their frequency”.
He adds it would be a positive if Home Affairs enabled quick applications to be made online. However, if this is not the case he believes airlines could reconsider why they should fly to South Africa.