Airlink, South Africa’s airline company, announced that it will restart scheduled services between Johannesburg O.R. Tambo and Antananarivo, Madagascar, on January 30th.
This follows the decision by Madagascar to lift a three-year ban on commercial flights to and from South Africa.
The ban had been extended in October 15th, 2022, and particularly affected Airlink, which was the only scheduled operator on the route.
The ban was put in place due to a dispute between the two countries over 73.5 kilograms of smuggled gold and $20,000 that were seized at Johannesburg OR Tambo International Airport in December 31st, 2020, from three passengers arriving from Madagascar.
The Malagasy government demanded the return of the treasure and the extradition of its nationals, who were now jailed in South Africa. The route to South Africa stayed closed pending the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the two nations to combat smuggling.
“Airlink, as the designated South African carrier to Madagascar, welcomes the Madagascar government’s lifting of the prohibition which lets us re-establish these air services that are vitally important economic, trade and tourism connections between the two countries. We are looking forward to re-connecting South Africa with Madagascar and resuming our role in support of the recovery of ties between the two markets,” said Airlink CEO and Managing Director, Rodger Foster.
Airlink will operate its modern flagship Embraer E-Jet airliners on the Johannesburg-Antananarivo route.
The Johannesburg-Antananarivo service will recommence with a single weekly flight on Mondays, increasing to three flights weekly from 14 February 2023 with the intention of re-instating daily services as demand increases.
A schedule published by Airlink indicates that the outbound Flight 4Z 252 will depart Johannesburg at 10.00 local time every Monday, arriving in Antananarivo at 14.10. The return leg 4Z 253 will depart Antananarivo at 15.00 the same day, arriving at Johannesburg OR Tambo at 17.40.