Ryanair Afrikaans test: Airline drops controversial South African quiz

Ryanair Afrikaans test: Airline drops controversial South African quiz
South Africa's Home Affairs department, which has warned of syndicates selling fake passports, said it would issue a statement on the Ryanair test.

Ryanair has dropped a controversial test in the Afrikaans language aimed at identifying passengers travelling on fake South African passports.

Boss Michael O’Leary said imposing the test “doesn’t make any sense”.

The policy caused outrage in South Africa, where many black people associate Afrikaans with the days of white-minority rule.

South Africa has 11 official languages and Ryanair never explained why it chose Afrikaans.

The budget airline runs flights across Europe.

The quiz contained questions such as what is South Africa’s international dialling code, what is its capital city and who is the current president of the country.

Anyone who failed was refused travel and refunded the cost of their ticket. Ryanair originally defended the test saying it received a fine for every passenger found to have travelled on a fake passport.

In a statement sent to the BBC last week, Ryanair said it had to carry out the extra test because of “substantially increased cases of fraudulent South African passports being used to enter the UK”.

But the imposition of the quiz was widely condemned.

More than a week after the controversy blew up, Mr O’Leary has said the airline has changed its policy.

“Our team issued a test in Afrikaans of 12 simple questions,” he told journalists.

“They have no difficulty completing that. But we didn’t think it was appropriate either. So we have ended the Afrikaans test, because it doesn’t make any sense.”

Last week, South African citizen Dinesh Joseph told the BBC how he was “seething” with anger when asked to take the test before flying to the UK from the Canary Islands.

“It was the language of apartheid,” Mr Joseph said, saying it was a trigger for him.

“Being a person of colour, especially from South Africa, you’ve experienced a lot… of racism,” he said.

Media caption,

Dinesh Joseph: ‘Why I was so upset by Ryanair Afrikaans test’

The imposition of Afrikaans in schools was the main reason behind the 1976 Soweto uprising against the apartheid regime, in which at least 170 people were killed, mostly schoolchildren.

South Africa has 11 official languages: Zulu, isiXhosa, Afrikaans, Sepedi, Setswana, English, Sesotho, Xitsonga, Siswati, Tshivenda and Ndebele.