Ryanair has been accused of racism for the profiling of South African travellers who the airline force to take an Afrikaans language test to prove their nationality before boarding flights.
Afrikaans, a derivative of the Dutch language developed by European colonists which was forced upon black South Africans under apartheid and is only used by an estimated 12% of the population.
The budget airline last week started forcing UK-bound travellers with a South African passport to take a two-page test a test in Afrikaans which almost immediately sparked fury among South Africans, with many taking to social media to criticize the airline, pointing out that South Africa has 11 official languages, and many nationals do not speak Afrikaans.
Ryanair has since released a statement declaring that the test, made up of questions related to South African general knowledge, was issued as a response to the “high prevalence” of counterfeit South African passports.
“In order to minimize the risk of fake passport usage, Ryanair requires passengers on a South African passport to fill out a simple questionnaire in the Afrikaans language.”
“If they are unable to complete this questionnaire, they will be refused travel and issued with a full refund instead.
“Airlines operating to the UK face Home Office fines of £2,000 per passenger for anyone who travel illegally to the UK on a fraudulent passport/visa.”
The UK High Commission in South Africa has also responded, pointing out that the questionnaire is “not a UK Government requirement.”
Ryanair does not operate direct flights to or from South Africa.