Ryanair drops Afrikaans test after backlash from South African passengers

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Low-cost carrier (LCC) Ryanair has removed its requirement for South African passengers to conduct a test in the Afrikaans language to prove their nationality before traveling to the United Kingdom.  

Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary confirmed the change after the airline sparked a backlash from South African travelers, according to a report published by Reuters. 

According to Reuters, the South African government labelled the procedure as a “backward profiling system”.  

However, O’Leary described South African government’s profiling accusation as “rubbish” citing a surge in passengers carrying fake passports on its Turkey to Ireland route.  

During a news conference in Brussels on June 14, 2022, O’Leary said: “The South African government have acknowledged that there’s a problem with the vast number of false or fake South African passports.”  

In an earlier report from Reuters, dated June 7, the Department of Home Affairs in South Africa was cited as saying: “We are taken aback by the decision of this airline because the Department regularly communicates with all airlines to update them on how to validate South African passports, including the look and feel.”   

“Due to the high prevalence of fraudulent South African passports, we require passengers traveling to the U.K. to fill out a simple questionnaire issued in Afrikaans,” Ryanair wrote in a statement issued to AeroTime on June 7, 2022. “If they are unable to complete this questionnaire, they will be refused travel and issued with a full refund.”  

The UK High Commission in South Africa also look to Twitter to confirm that the test was “not a UK Government requirement”. 

Ryanair does not currently provide any direct air connectivity services between South Africa and the UK. The airline only operates services to 10 destinations to and from one African country – Morocco.

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