21 Apr 2020

Covid-19 response: More repatriation flights on the way

6:22 pm on 21 April 2020

The government is planning more repatriation flights for New Zealanders stuck overseas.

big airplane in the sky flying over ocean

Repatriation efforts are continuing. Photo: 123rf.com

Only citizens and residents are allowed to return under the current border restrictions - with limited exceptions - and all are being quarantined.

Officials have so far helped arrange flights back to New Zealand from Peru, and 167 people who were stranded in the Philippines arrived in Auckland yesterday.

Minister Chris Hipkins said the first flight carrying people who were stranded in India was due in Auckland this week.

He said repatriation efforts continued in what is the largest consular operation ever attempted by New Zealand foreign affairs' officials.

"Where we can we're working very closely to make sure that we can get Kiwis home and get those who are in New Zealand who want to get home, also home."

However, some of those stuck overseas said they would struggle to pay the cost of being repatriated to New Zealand.

India's announcement of a lockdown was swift.

With only four hours notice between the announcement and when it took effect, there was no way out for foreigners.

Others said flights in the days leading up to the lockdown were cancelled anyway.