Ryanair drops Afrikaans test after backlash in South Africa

PUBLISHED: Wed, 15 Jun 2022 10:34:34 GMT
Clement Rossignol
GDANSK, POLAND – 2022/05/19: Ryanair planes are seen at the Lech Walesa Airport in Gdansk. (Photo by Mateusz Slodkowski/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

DUBLIN, June 15 (Reuters) – Ryanair RYA.I has dropped a requirement for South African passengers to prove their nationality before travelling by completing a test in Afrikaans, Chief Executive Michael O’Leary said after the policy drew a backlash among South Africans.

The South African government said last week it was taken aback by the low cost carrier’s decision to force UK-bound travelers holding the country’s passport to take the test, calling the move a “backward profiling system”. Read full story

Afrikaans is spoken by just 12% of the 58 million people in the country and often associated with apartheid and white minority rule.

Read more: South Africa ‘taken aback’ by Ryanair’s Afrikaans test to prove nationality

O’Leary, whose airline does not operate flights to and from South Africa but carries more passengers around Europe than anyone else, described the South African government’s profiling accusation as “rubbish” but said the test had been dropped.

“The South African government have acknowledged that there’s a problem with the vast number of false or fake South African passports,” O’Leary told a news conference in Brussels on Tuesday, citing a surge in false South African passports on a route between Turkey and Ireland.

“Our team issued a test in Afrikaans of 12 simple questions like what’s the name of the mountain outside Pretoria? They have no difficulty completing that, but we’ve we didn’t think it was appropriate either. So we have ended the Afrikaans test because doesn’t make any sense.”

(Reporting by Clement Rossignol in Brussels, writing by Padraic Halpin in Dublin, Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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