TUI fly Belgium replaced South African Airways for a shipment of Covid-19 vaccines to South Africa

© Thibault Lapers

Boeing 787-8 ex G-TUIG, now OO-LOE at Brussels © André Orban

Flight plans had been filed for a South African Airways Airbus A340-600 registered ZS-SNG to fly from Johannesburg to Brussels on 13 February in order to fetch a load of Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccines, as shown in our “Plane spotting – Belgium” forum.

The flight was delayed several times before being cancelled. South African Airways (SAA) was unable to fly to Brussels on Sunday to fetch the first batch of the Johnson & Johnson vaccines. The decision is reportedly due to the risk measures not being adequate enough or acceptable with global aviation standards. The main concern that the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) had, and which led to a series of discussions with SAA, was in relation to the recency of the national carrier’s flight deck crew.

SAA managed to get the selected flight crew to attend the mandatory recency training. SAA was granted exemption on Tuesday (16 February), according to SACAA.

In the meantime, however, TUI fly had been entrusted with transporting the load of vaccines, spokesperson Sarah Saucin confirmed to Boeing 787-8 registered OO-LOE took off from Brussels on 16 February at 11:20 as flight X3/JAF 9300 and landed in Johannesburg at 22:37.

After the mandatory rest period for the crew, the aircraft took off from Johannesburg on 17 February at 19:38 to land at Brussels the next day at 05:29 as flight X3/JAF 9311, according to Flightradar24 data.

It should be noticed that the flights used the X3 code of TUI and not the TB code of TUI fly Belgium.

(with input from eNCA)

André Orban: M. Sc. Engineering
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