Ryanair drops Afrikaans test that angered South Africans

LONDON (AP) — Budget airline Ryanair says it has scrapped its controversial Afrikaans language test for South African travelers aimed at weeding out people with phony passports.

The Dublin-based airline changed its policy of requiring South African travelers to the U.K. to pass the quiz after the furor erupted earlier this month.

Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary told a press conference in Brussels Tuesday that the test was being dropped, the BBC reported. The airline’s press office confirmed his remarks.

“Our team issued a test in Afrikaans of 12 simple questions,” such as naming the mountain outside the capital Pretoria, O’Leary told reporters.

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

Ryanair doesn’t 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 13% of the country’s population of nearly 60 million. 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.

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.” South African passengers who could not pass the test were prevented from boarding and given a refund.

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