44 South Africans stranded at Amsterdam airport after being barred from boarding flight home

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More than 40 South Africans have been left stranded at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam after they were prevented from boarding a repatriation flight to Cape Town.
More than 40 South Africans have been left stranded at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam after they were prevented from boarding a repatriation flight to Cape Town.
Reinhard Arndt
  • Forty-four South Africans have been left stranded at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, after they were prevented from boarding a repatriation flight to Cape Town.
  • Passengers have been accommodated on another flight, but will have to fly to, and be quarantined in, Johannesburg.
  • The reason for the flight remains unclear, but could be based on concerns over quarantine facilities in Cape Town.


More than 40 South Africans have been left stranded at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam after they were prevented from boarding a repatriation flight to Cape Town. The plane had reportedly not received the necessary clearances to fly with passengers onboard.

DA MP and Home Away From Home's Beverley Schafer confirmed the KLM flight was scheduled to take off from Amsterdam on Friday.

"Departure was delayed by an hour as the plane did not receive its necessary clearances to be able to fly with passengers on board. The flight has just taken off with only cargo on board, and 44 passengers have been left stranded in transit at Schiphol Airport as a result," she said on Friday.

Airlines such as KLM, Qatar Airways, Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines, BA, Cem Air and Maple assisted around 12 000 returning South Africans, according to Schafer.

Reinhard Arndt, one of the 44 passengers, travelled from London to make the flight, and had already spent 26 hours in the airport before the cancellation.

"Boarding for the flight was scheduled to start at 11:24. At around 11:20, as everyone started queuing up to board, a sudden and unexpected announcement came from the boarding desk: The SA government has instructed that no passengers may board this plane," Arndt said.

According to Arndt, no reasons were provided, and passengers were simply told the airline and South African government were trying to resolve the matter. At 12:40, the passengers were informed the plane would be departing without passengers.

Arndt said that passengers had paid around €950 for the flight and had been cleared by both the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) and the relevant High Commissions in the UK and the Netherlands.

But the reason for the cancellation remains unclear.

According to Schafer, some passengers were told there were not enough quarantine beds available for returning South Africans in Cape Town.

"This allegation has been checked and I can confirm that the hotels allocated for returning South Africans in Cape Town are mostly empty and that quarantine is therefore not the issue," she said.

"The question we must ask is: Why are passengers who are scheduled to fly today, having paid their tickets and told the flight is scheduled to take off, being prevented from boarding?"

Arndt and other passengers will now be accommodated on a flight leaving Amsterdam later on Saturday, but this flight will land in Johannesburg where passengers will be quarantined before having to make their own way to Cape Town.

In addition, Arndt says no financial assistance or accommodation has been provided, with passengers forced to sleep in the airport for another night.

News24 was unable to reach Dirco for comment at the time of publication.

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