Ryanair drops Afrikaans test after backlash in South Africa

Ryanair has dropped the requirement for South African passengers to prove their nationality before traveling by taking an Afrikaans test, chief executive Michael O’Leary has said after the policy sparked a backlash among South Africans.

The South African government said last week it was surprised by the low-cost carrier’s decision to require travelers to the UK holding the country’s passport to take the test, calling the move “a system back profiling”.

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

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

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“The South African government has recognized that there is a problem with the large number of forged or bogus South African passports,” O’Leary said at a press conference in Brussels on Tuesday, citing an increase in false South African passports on a road between Turkey and Ireland.

“Our team has published a test in Afrikaans of 12 simple questions such as what is the name of the mountain outside Pretoria. They have no difficulty in doing this, but we did not think it was appropriate neither. So we ended the test in Afrikaans because it doesn’t make any sense.”

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Post expires at 1:36pm on Saturday June 25th, 2022