23 Apr 2020

Flight returning Kiwis stranded in India arrives on Saturday

3:35 pm on 23 April 2020

The first flight bringing New Zealanders stranded in India home will touch down in Auckland on Saturday.

Boeing 777-300

Boeing 777-300 Photo: Air New Zealand

Foreign Minister Winston Peters said there would be three flights departing from New Delhi and Mumbai over the next week.

India's lockdown has been extended until early May, leaving New Zealanders with no commercial flight options to get home, Mr Peters said.

"The decision to charter flights at huge expense was not taken lightly, but the New Zealand government is seriously committed to assisting New Zealanders to return home where all other options have been exhausted."

The government is looking at options to get people home from other parts of India.

"We are conscious that there are significant numbers of New Zealanders currently in India who are stranded a long way from New Delhi and Mumbai, especially in southern and eastern India. We are looking into flight options for them, including with partners, from Chennai and Kolkata," Mr Peters said.

Nearly 1300 people registered for the flights.

"This included a large number of non-eligible people, which added an additional layer of complexity as MFAT worked with relevant agencies to ensure that only those who would be allowed back into the country were permitted on to the flights," Mr Peters said.

The Air New Zealand flights will fly directly from India to New Zealand, avoiding any additional difficulties around transit for New Zealanders returning home.

Air New Zealand will be using its 342-seat Boeing 777-300 aircraft for the charter flights.

The flight time will be about 15.5 hours.

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