Following the first cases of COVID-19 in Fiji on 19 March 2020, the Nadi International Airport was closed and all regular flights were suspended to contain the outbreak of the pandemic. This presented a very challenging environment to bring home nearly 1000 Europeans who were stranded across 13 Pacific island countries, most of them in Fiji.
To reunite Europeans with their loved ones, the EU Delegation for the Pacific, under the leadership of Ambassador Sujiro Seam, established a repatriation task force, which made contact with Europeans scattered across 13 Pacific island countries.
Simultaneously the EU Delegation closely collaborated with Member State Embassies in the Pacific, Australia and New-Zealand, Pacific governments and airlines to organise special flights for the Europeans who wished to fly home.
The British High Commission in Suva participated actively in this coordination, as it continues to lead on consular protection for unrepresented Europeans in Fiji until the end of the BREXIT transition period.
On 7 April 2020, one chartered and two commercial repatriation Fiji Airways flights flew nearly 300 Europeans from different countries (Germany, France, Italy, Czech Republic, Greece, United Kingdom, Ireland, Finland, Sweden, Switzerland, Croatia, Austria, Belgium, The Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Romania, Hungary, Norway and Slovakia) from Nadi International Airport to Brisbane, Sydney and Los Angeles. All passengers can then catch onwards flights to Europe. The chartered repatriation flight to Brisbane was organized by Germany. The 183 passengers on board will transit through Brisbane and Doha to Munich.
Ambassador Sujiro Seam said: ''Helping Europeans stranded around the world return home is a key priority for the European Union during the COVID-19 pandemic. From the Pacific, it is particularly challenging because several connections are required to fly back to Europe. The repatriation flights organized today were a complex operation. They would not have been possible without the close cooperation with EU Member States, Pacific governments and airlines. Nothing makes me happier than Europeans soon to be reunited with their loved ones in Europe. We will keep working to bring the Europeans who are still stranded in the Pacific back home".
For further information, contact , Mohammed Nazeem KASIM, EU Press & Information Officer, Suva, Fiji
Tel: +679 8672255 or Email: Mohammed-Nazeem.KASIM@eeas.europa.eu