Delta to continue Atlanta-Johannesburg flights amid restrictions

Delta Air Lines is continuing its Atlanta-Johannesburg flights, even though the U.S. has imposed new restrictions on travel from southern African countries because of concerns about a new COVID-19 variant.

Atlanta-based Delta operates three flights a week between Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and Johannesburg. The airline resumed the route, which had been suspended for more than a year due to the pandemic, less than four months ago.

The U.S. government announced that it has begun restricting travel from South Africa, along with seven other countries in southern Africa, because of the recently discovered omicron variant. However, the travel restrictions do not apply to U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

The new measures ban entry by foreign nationals who have been in South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia or Zimbabwe in the previous 14 days.

The U.S. State Department is advising people not to travel to South Africa or the other countries with travel restrictions. Those with Delta bookings for flights through Dec. 31 can change their travel plans without paying a change fee, according to Delta.

Delta said it “will continue to work closely with our government partners to monitor the new COVID-19 variant and any travel restrictions.”

A Delta flight from Johannesburg to Atlanta was diverted to Boston to change flight crews on Sunday morning. The airline said the diversion occurred because of a technical issue.