120 more Europeans were repatriated from the Pacific on special flights operated by Nauru Airlines from Tonga and Vanuatu on 17 April 2020 and Talofa Airways from Samoa and Air New-Zealand from Cook Islands on 19 April 2020. These repatriation flights were chartered by Germany, and flew to Sydney, with onwards connections to Doha and Francfort.
To fight the COVID-19 pandemic, Tonga, Vanuatu, Samoa and Cook Islands closed their airports and suspended regular fights. Many Europeans ended up stranded in these countries. The Delegation of the European Union for the Pacific cooperated with local authorities, Member State Embassies and British High Commissions, to fly them to Europe.
In the last round of repatriation flights, 9 Europeans from Samoa, 12 from Tonga, 39 from Vanuatu and 60 from the Cook Islands managed to board the German chartered flights. Nationals from Australia, New-Zealand, Russia, Japan, Fiji and Tonga also took advantage of these flights to reach Australia.
An initial round of repatriation flights on 7, 8 and 13 April 2020 from Fiji and Samoa to Brisbane, Sydney, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Nouméa brought nearly 350 Europeans back to their loved ones. The Delegation of the European Union for the Pacific will continue to work to assist Europeans still stranded in the Pacific, in particular in Fiji, the Solomon Islands and Palau.
The Delegation of the European Union for the Pacific also facilitated the delivery from Australia to Vanuatu of a humanitarian cargo from UNICEF, in response to Category 5 Tropical Cyclone Harold, on the repatriation flight for Port-Vila.
The Ambassador of the European Union for the Pacific, HE Sujiro Seam said: ''After a first round of repatriation flights from Fiji and Samoa, my team kept working to assist Europeans left behind to fly back to Europe. I am happy that a second round of repatriation flights from Tonga, Vanuatu, Samoa and Cook Islands allowed to uplift 120 more of them. I am also proud that my team was able to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian supplies from UNICEF to Port-Vila in response to Cyclone Harold, in combination with the repatriation operation in Vanuatu. We are now focusing on the next and probably final round of repatriation flights for Fiji, Solomon Islands and Palau.”
For further information, contact Mohammed Nazeem KASIM, EU Press & Information Officer Suva, Fiji Mobile: +679 867 2255 Email: Mohammed-Nazeem.KASIM@eeas.europa.eu