In a shock reversal, Qatar Airways posted a notice on its website on Saturday, December 11, saying that with immediate effect, the carrier would no longer accept passengers travelling from five Southern African countries into its global network.

It was only this past Thursday, December 9, when QR sent out a release saying it would accept outbound passengers from South Africa and the other four countries and agents rejoiced at the return of some outbound airlift.

Passengers who are booked on Qatar Airways flights from Luanda, Maputo, Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, Lusaka and Harare, will not be accepted for travel until further notice, says the website.

The notice says: “These restrictions will remain in place until we receive further guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO).  We will continue to review the situation on a daily basis and will update as new information becomes available.”

A trade communiqué from the airline said only that due to operational reasons the airline had had to postpone the start of outbound passenger services from South Africa for a short period of time.