Call for repatriation of stranded French Polynesians

4:41 pm on 17 April 2020

There is a growing push for several hundred French Polynesian residents stranded abroad because of the Covid-19 outbreak to be repatriated.

Air Tahiti Nui's Boeing Dreamliner is welcomed at the airport in Tahiti

Photo: Supplied

Last week, the president Edouard Fritch gave an address on social media to those stuck in France, saying they would have to wait for a return home until the restrictions imposed over the pandemic have been lifted.

They will have to wait as both Air Tahiti Nui and Air France have suspended flights until the end of May.

Amid an outcry by those affected, the French overseas minister Annick Girardin told the National Assembly that she hoped the blocked travellers could fly back as soon as possible.

However, she said it was up to French Polynesia to arrange for their return.

In Tahiti, opposition politicians have also called for the repatriation of stranded residents, noting that for example New Caledonia's government is in the process of flying back residents left abroad on charters after airlines ceased to operate the route to Noumea.

It has been pointed out that the French government sponsors a weekly Air Tahiti Nui flight between Paris and Papeete to transport medical supplies but that it doesn't carry passengers.