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Michael O'Leary confirmed that the test has been scrapped. Alamy
Afrikaans test

Ryanair scraps controversial South Africa test as O’Leary admits ‘it doesn’t make sense’

The test in Afrikaans caused outrage in South Africa.

RYANAIR HAS SCRAPPED its controversial pre-boarding test for South African passport holders in the Afrikaans language as the airline’s CEO Michael O’Leary says “it doesn’t make any sense”.

The test caused outrage in South Africa where many associate Afrikaans with the apartheid era. The test was only available in Afrikaans despite it being just one of 11 official languages in the county and being used by just 12% of South Africans, many of them white.

O’Leary said the test was an effort to respond to a rise in detection of false South African passports.

“We suffer a fine of €2,000 for every passenger who arrives in Dublin from Bodrum (in Turkey) with a false South African passport,” he said.

He added that, while the airline had been asking South African passport holders to answer local general knowledge and geographical questions in Afrikaans, it got rid of the questionnaire.

“We didn’t think it was appropriate either. So we have ended the Afrikaans test, because it doesn’t make any sense,” he said, adding that “South Africa needs to fix its problems”.

The test contained questions about landmarks, well known political figures and which side of the road South Africans drive on.

South Africa’s government had called the test “backward profiling”. Ryanair has not explained why it chose to carry out the test only in Afrikaans.

Passengers who refused to complete the test or failed to answer the questions correctly were not allowed to board Ryanair flights and were refunded the price of their ticket.

The South African Department of Home Affairs said it was “taken aback” by the airline’s decision to introduce this requirement for its citizens.

The department said all airlines have access to the ‘Advanced Passenger Processing’ system which enables them to screen passengers before they depart. The government also runs a 24-hour service which airlines can use to authenticate South African passports.

“It is not clear to which extent the airline has used these services before resorting to this backward profiling system,” the department said.

Meanwhile, O’Leary said that “100%” of the woes experienced by air passengers in the UK – including massively long lines and cancelled flights – was because “Brexit has been a shambles”.

“It was delivered by a government led by Boris Johnson that is also a shambles. It was inevitable that Brexit would constrain the labour market, you see,” the Ryanair boss said.

Additional reporting from AFP

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