In light of the Omicron outbreak that has affected many countries since mid-December, resulting in the cancellation of flights and reduced schedules for the first few months of 2022, authorities in Argentina issued orders to suspend all direct flights from Africa and impose additional requirements on travellers arriving from the continent, an order that has been in effect since Dec 1.
In an official Gazette published last December 30, the Administrative Decision 1316/2021, maintained the sanitary restrictions on entry into the country by suspending all direct flights from Africa and imposed additional requirements on travellers from the continent.
On the receiving end, Africa’s largest carrier Ethiopian Airlines which was scheduled to return on December 12, was rejected by ANAC Argentina as it is an airline coming from Africa, regarded as the initial epicentre of the omicron variant, despite making a technical stopover in Sao Paulo (GRU), Brazil.
The airline was forced to relocate passengers through other Star Alliance airlines (Air Canada, Turkish Airlines, and Swiss International) while seeking special permits for the flights with no positive responses according to Aviaciononline.
Ethiopian made its last scheduled operations to Buenos Aires on On June 7, last year due to COVID-19 restrictions in Argentina.
The carrier had a weekly frequency from Addis Ababa (ADD) and Sao Paulo (GRU), on Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner aircraft.
The airline planned to resume flights between Addis Ababa, Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires as of December 12, with the Star Alliance carrier planning to operate three weekly flights with the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner.
Until March 2020, Ethiopian Airlines operated three to five times a week to Argentina’s capital city on the same aircraft.
According to flightaware, more than 8,000 flights have been cancelled in the U.S. and Europe in the past two weeks, primarily due to an increase in personnel who are sick with the omicron variant.
More cases have also been reported in Africa with major carriers like Emirates not allowing travellers from some African countries destined to Dubai.