British Airways (BA, London Heathrow) has confirmed it has resumed flights to South Africa despite the country remaining on the United Kingdom's COVID-19 red list following the detection by South African scientists of the new Omicron variant.

Flights from London to South Africa resumed November 29 and those from South Africa start on December 1, a spokesman in London confirmed to ch-aviation. "We are serving both Johannesburg O.R. Tambo and Cape Town. Between December 1 and 6, we’ll have six flights from Johannesburg and six flights from Cape Town to London," he said.

Under the UK government red list COVID-19 rules, only British or Irish nationals and those with residence rights in the UK will be allowed to enter the UK on these flights. Even then, they will have to take a COVID-19 test three days before travel, book a costly quarantine hotel package, including two more COVID-19 tests. This is required even for travellers who are fully vaccinated.

Between November 26 and 28, the UK added 10 Southern African countries to its red list, including South Africa, Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Lesotho, Eswatini, Malawi, and Zambia.

Travellers must quarantine at home if they arrived in the UK between midday November 26 and 0400L (0400Z) on November 28 from South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia, and Zimbabwe. They will be contacted by NHS test and trace services for free COVID-19 PCR tests. Anyone arriving in the UK from these countries after 0400L (0400Z) on November 28 must follow standard red list rules, meaning a mandatory hotel quarantine and two COVID-19 tests.

Meanwhile, Lufthansa Group will maintain flights to Southern Africa, including Lufthansa services to South Africa, EW Discover flights to Namibia, and Swiss and Edelweiss Air flights from Switzerland. However, since November 28, only German nationals, their immediate family members, and holders of German residence permits will be allowed to enter Germany. Similarly, only Swiss and Liechtensteiner nationals or permanent residents who are able to present a valid negative PCR test will be allowed to travel on Swiss and Edelweiss, according to a statement by Lufthansa's General Manager (Southern & East Africa), André Schulz.

From November 30, passengers of all nationalities must provide a negative PCR test result (digital or printed), taken within 72 hours before entry into Germany. This includes those who hold a vaccination or immunity certificate. Antigen tests will no longer be accepted by German authorities.