Original Research

Impact of Omicron COVID-19 restrictions on air transport and tourism to and from South Africa

Joachim Vermooten
Journal of Transport and Supply Chain Management | Vol 17 | a881 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jtscm.v17i0.881 | © 2023 Joachim Vermooten | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 08 December 2022 | Published: 27 October 2023

About the author(s)

Joachim Vermooten, Department of Transport and Supply Chain Management, College of Business and Economics, School of Management, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa


Background: The governments of important tourist source markets imposed additional travel restrictions (the Omicron restrictions) to South Africa (and neighbouring states) as a result of the identification of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 in South Africa. These restrictions interrupted and paused the recovery in international and regional passenger traffic to and from South Africa and its neighbouring states.

Objectives: To determine the impact of Omicron-related air travel restrictions on passenger demand, the number of flights operated (supply of services), average passenger loads carried and salient tourism indicators.

Method: The study identifies the monthly number of passengers and flights operated before and immediately following the imposition and lifting of Omicron-related travel restrictions. The counterfactual, to determine the traffic and tourism recovery would have been had these restrictions not been imposed is made by interpolation.

Results: Significant decreases in the annual number of passengers carried, flights operated and the average loads of passengers were identified within two geographic areas, international and regional traffic, on over-border flights affected by Omicron restrictions and the impact on tourism and employment.

Conclusion: The Omicron restrictions interrupted the recovery trend that started to emerge and caused a decline in passenger and tourism flows, tourism spending and employment.

Contribution: The study determines the impact of the Omicron restrictions on South Africa to prevent rapid government overreaction where the causation of contagion is not objectively demonstrated.


COVID-19; Omicron; restrictions; regulations; air travel; air transport; tourism; passengers carried; flights operated; passenger load; recovery

JEL Codes

L93: Air Transportation

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 8: Decent work and economic growth


Total abstract views: 853
Total article views: 686

Crossref Citations

No related citations found.