Ryanair RYA.I is requiring South African passengers to prove their nationality before traveling by taking a test in Afrikaans, a language used by only 12 percent of the population, which has long been identified with apartheid and the white minority.
Europe’s largest airline, which does not fly to or from South Africa, said it requires all passengers traveling to and from the United Kingdom to fill out a “simple questionnaire” because of what it called the high prevalence of fraudulent South African flights. passports.
“If they are unable to fill out this form, they will be denied travel and a full refund will be issued,” an Irish airline spokesman said.
The British High Commission in South Africa said on Twitter that the test is not a requirement of the British government to enter the United Kingdom.
Ryanair said it would apply to any South African passport holder flying into the U.K. from another part of Europe on the carrier. The airline did not immediately respond to a question about why it would apply to these routes, since the U.K. says it is not a requirement.
Afrikaans is the third most widely spoken of South Africa’s 11 official languages, spoken by 12 percent of the country’s 58 million people. It was considered the official language until the end of apartheid in 1994.
The language was born in a Dutch settlement in South Africa in the 17th century and has long been identified with racial classification and associated with the apartheid ideology, which was largely imposed and promoted by the National White Minority Party since 1948.
Its dominance under apartheid was seen as a symbol of the inequality imposed on previous generations by restrictions on where people could live, work, go to school, and own land.