Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula says new maritime regulations have come into operation regulating the movement of ships in and out of the country.

Mbalula says no passenger cruise ships will be allowed to embark or disembark passengers at the country’s ports, adding that the country had imposed a “total ban” on cruise ships from March 18 because of risks associated with the coronavirus outbreak.

He was speaking at the Transnet National Ports Authority offices near the Aidamira in Cape Town on Wednesday.  “The regulations give effect to the prohibition of embarkation and disembarkation of passengers at all the 8 seaports. In terms of these regulations, no passenger vessels would be allowed in our ports. In essence, there is a total ban with effect from today. No cruise ships will be permitted to call into South African port or will anyway be allowed to leave our shores.”

South Africa now has 116 confirmed cases of coronavirus. There has been an increase of 31 new cases, with 6 more cases of local transmission.

The number of new cases since Tuesday night’s announcement shot up by 31. Twenty-five of them have travel history through Europe while the six others have no travel history.

The Health Ministry says it is investigating to determine how the local transmissions were spread. They say as soon as they have the information, they will share with the public.

Full details, however, will not be disclosed in line with patient confidentiality.

“No passenger vessels will be allowed in our ports. In essence, there is a total ban on cruise ships,” Mbalula told a news conference, adding that the ban would not affect cargo ships arriving in South African ports.

In the video below, the KwaZulu-Natal Premier defends a popular Durban Cruise liner that set sail recently:

Below is a list of how the world’s biggest airlines have responded:


Air France-KLM will park its biggest airliners and slash services by up to 90% over the next few days, it said on March 16. The group said it had identified measures to save 200 million euros ($223 million) in 2020 and ways to cut its capital expenditure by 350 million euros.


Air New Zealand said on March 16 it would cut long-haul capacity by 85% in the coming months and the domestic network would be reduced by 30% in April and May. The airline has withdrawn its full-year earnings outlook, frozen hiring and offered unpaid leave to staff.


American Airlines plans to cut 75% of its international flights through May 6 and ground nearly all its widebody fleet.


China Southern Airlines reported on March 18 a 73% drop in February passenger capacity, adding that the impact from the coronavirus epidemic remains uncertain.


Delta said it has seen net bookings fall by 25% to 30% and expected the situation to worsen.

The airline has received over 4,500 requests from flight attendants for voluntary unpaid leave in April, according to a March 14 paper seen by Reuters.

The airline is cutting domestic capacity by 10% to 15% and international by 20% to 25%, freezing hiring, offering voluntary leave options to staff and looking at early retirement of older aircraft.


The German carrier cut long-haul capacity by up to 90% from March 17, and said it would only operate 20% of planned intra-Europe flights.


El Al has sent 5 500 of its 6 000 workers on unpaid leave until May 31 after it slashed its flight schedule due to the coronavirus outbreak.


Emirates is asking pilots and cabin crew to take unpaid leave.


On March 17, Finnair said it would cancel most of its flights until the end of June as it starts transitioning to a limited network.


International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG), the owner of British Airways and Iberia, said it would cut its flying capacity by at least 75% in April and May.

The group detailed cost cuts including a freeze on discretionary spending, working hours reductions and a temporary suspension of employment contracts.

On March 17 the UK pilot union BALPA said that British Airways was due to make an unspecified number of pilots redundant.


JetBlue, which pulled its first-quarter and 2020 earnings forecast, said it was adjusting schedules between March and early May and was considering more flight cancellations.

JetBlue said the outbreak was expected to make at least a six percentage-point dent in its total revenue per available seat mile in the first quarter.

The carrier was considering voluntary time-off programs for employees, delaying some hiring and increasing the frequency with which it cleans aircraft.


Norwegian Air said on March 16 it would cancel 85% of its flights and temporarily lay off 7,300 employees. The cancellations add to an already difficult financial situation at Norwegian, which has scrapped its 2020 outlook and lost 70% of its market value this year.


Qantas Airways said on March 16 it would be making fresh cuts to its flying schedule beyond the 25% reduction in international capacity it announced previously.  Its CEO will take no salary for the rest of the current financial year, the management team will receive no bonuses and all staff are encouraged to take paid or unpaid leave.

The airline said it could no longer provide guidance on the outbreak’s financial impact.


Qatar Airways laid off around 200 employees, all Filipino nationals based in Qatar, this week.


Russia’s airlines could lose 100 billion roubles ($1.4 billion) due to the outbreak and risk going bankrupt, the head of Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency told the Interfax news agency.


The Irish airline said on March 16 it would ground most of its aircraft in Europe over the next seven to ten days, expected to cut seat capacity by 80% for the next two months, and could even ground its entire fleet.


The Danish and Swedish governments said on March 17 they had decided to provide guarantees to struggling airline SAS totalling 3 billion Swedish crowns ($302 million).


Singapore Airlines said on March 17 it was set to operate only 50% of the capacity planned up to end of April.


Southwest said Monday it had secured a new $1 billion line of credit and was withdrawing its previous 2020 financial guidance. With its planes flying only half full, it will reduce capacity by at least 20% from April 14 through June 5.


The US airline said it was cutting fares by up to 70% and trimming April capacity by about 5%.


The Chicago-based airline said on March 15 it would cut corporate officers’ salaries by 50% and reduce flight capacity by about 50% in April and May, with deep capacity cuts also expected into the summer.

The airline said on March 17 it will have a 60% schedule reduction in April.


Virgin Atlantic, the UK-based airline, said it would ground 75% of its fleet by 26 March and by up to 85% at points in April, as it cancelled more flights.


Canadian WestJet suspended all international and transborder flights for 30 days from March 22 and reduced its domestic schedule by 50%.