Airline forcing South Africans to prove they speak Dutch-based language before being allowed to fly

Dublin-based Ryanair, Europe's biggest airline, mainly operates routes around Europe and doesn't fly to or from South Africa.

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LONDON (AP) — Budget airline Ryanair says it’s forcing South African travelers to the U.K. to do a test in the Afrikaans language to prove their nationality in an apparent effort to weed out those with phony passports.

Dublin-based Ryanair, Europe’s biggest airline, mainly operates routes around Europe and doesn’t fly to or from South Africa. It confirmed Monday it’s administering the quiz after reports about the test circulated over the weekend, sparking anger among travelers.

Afrikaans is one of South Africa’s 11 official languages and is the first language of about 13% of the country’s population. It’s a Dutch-based language developed by many of the country’s white settlers who came from the Netherlands and is associated with South Africa’s apartheid regime of white minority rule that ended in 1994.

A Ryanair plane parks at the airport in Weeze, Germany, Sept. 12, 2018. Budget airline Ryanair says it’s forcing South African travellers to the U.K. to do a test in the Afrikaans language to prove their nationality. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File)

“Due to the high prevalence of fraudulent South African passports, we require passengers traveling to the U.K. to fill out a simple questionnaire issued in Afrikaans,” Ryanair said in a brief press statement. “If they are unable to complete this questionnaire, they will be refused travel and issued with a full refund.”

The British High Commission in Pretoria said on Twitter that the test “is not a U.K. government requirement,” and linked to a website with official rules for South African visitors.

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