New SA visa regulations have airlines in a frenzy

Virgin Atlantic expects to have to turn passengers away when the new rules come into effect next week.

An ariel view of OR Tambo International Airport. Picture: Supplied.

JOHANNESBURG - International airline Virgin Atlantic says it expects to have to turn some foreign passengers away at airports when new regulations come in on Monday, and that airlines are going to suffer financially as a result.

From next week, people travelling in and out of South Africa will be required to have unabridged birth certificates for the children travelling with them, and to have affidavits from parents if they're not with the children.

The travel industry has strongly criticised the plans, but Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba has promised they will be implemented this time around.

Virgin Atlantic country manager Liezl Gericke says they're still battling to explain these rules to international markets.

"In the first instance, it's absolute shock and horror. There is no country in the world that is going to implement this particular process."

And she says the full rules were only published last week.

"Much to our dismay, subsequently, the standard operation procedures have already been altered three times. It makes it incredibly difficult for us to inform and educate."

Gericke says that in the end, people will be stopped from entering.

"Come 1 June, we will be in a position that we are likely to turn passengers away who don't have the correct documentation on hand."

The airline says it's still being met with shock and horror when trying to explain the regulations.

But the Home Affairs Department says these restrictions will stop human trafficking and make South Africa safer.

Meanwhile, the airline industry as a whole, says Home Affairs has placed the onus on them to communicate with travellers and that they're the ones who will lose money.

Acting head of the Board of Airline Representatives South Africa (Barsa), Carla da Silva, says they're going to be the ones carrying the cost.

"The airline could be fined. They've assured us that airlines won't be fined, but I can assure you that they will be. And then of course you have to put the passenger up in a hotel and fly them the next day."

Home Affairs is however adamant the new requirements will come into force on Monday.

To view the new regulations, click here.