Flights To Resume Between South Africa And Madagascar

Airlink will reinstate nonstop service between the countries after a flight ban was lifted.

Credit: Rob Finlayson

Airlink will resume flights linking Johannesburg (JNB) and Antananarivo (TNR) later this month following the lifting of Madagascar’s ban on air services to and from South Africa.

The carrier will commence operations on Jan. 30. Service on the 2,134-km (1,152-nm) route will initially be once a week using Embraer E170 aircraft, increasing to 3X-weekly from Feb. 14.

The airline intends to offer daily flights as demand increases.

Madagascar lifted COVID-19 restrictions in March 2022 but continued to block flights to and from South Africa while permitting them from other countries.

The cause of the ban is understood to have stemmed from South Africa’s refusal to return 73.5 kg of gold bars and an undisclosed amount of foreign currency that was seized in Johannesburg in late 2020 from passengers arriving from Madagascar.

Airlink CEO and MD Rodger Foster said the restart of South Africa-Madagascar flights are “vitally important economic, trade and tourism connections between the two countries.” He added that South Africa is an important source market and supply-chain link for Madagascar’s business and tourism sector.

Airlink said the route is also expected to satisfy demand from corporate travelers in Madagascar who will be able to connect through Johannesburg to onward destinations in the carrier’s network, as well as with partner airlines. It has codeshare agreements in place with the likes of Emirates, Qatar Airways and United Airlines.

Before the pandemic, Airlink operated a daily return flight between Johannesburg and Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar and its commercial hub. The carrier also served Nosy Be on a weekly seasonal basis. 

In a statement, the airline said the resumption of Antananarivo is its “immediate priority” but the restart of flights to Nosy-Be “will be considered in due course.”