Ryanair has scrapped a controversial Afrikaans language test that it was imposing on South African travellers in an attempt to clamp down on fake passports.
The budget airline had been requiring South African nationals flying to the UK to pass a quiz, sparking fury and accusations of discrimination. Passengers who did not successfully complete the test were prevented from boarding and given a refund.
Michael O’Leary, chief executive, told a press conference in Brussels on Wednesday that the test was being dropped.
He said: “Our team issued a test in Afrikaans of 12 simple questions.
“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.”
Questions included naming the mountain outside the capital Pretoria.
Ryanair does not fly to or from South Africa but is Europe’s biggest airline, carrying tens of millions of passengers between hundreds of cities annually.
Afrikaans is one of South Africa’s 11 official languages and is the first language of about 13pc of the country’s population of nearly 60m.
It is a Dutch-based language developed by many of the country’s settlers who came from the Netherlands and is associated with South Africa’s apartheid regime of white minority rule that ended in 1994.
Reports of the questionnaire circulating on social media sparked anger among South Africans.
The airline had said it needed passengers to pass the test because of the “high prevalence of fraudulent South African passports.”
BBC radio presenter Audrey Brown, who is South African, wrote: “I want everyone to know that a test in Afrikaans – if it is necessary at all – is a form of violence against us.
“For me, it felt like apartheid all over again – to be held in check by a language that was used to try and hold us in check back in the bad old days.
“I’m not grateful or happy that Ryanair has dropped the Afrikaans test. My overwhelming feeling remains anger – anger that they were insensitive and crass enough to force the test on South African passport holders in the first place.”