Federal government to organise 20 more repatriation flights for stranded Australians overseas after Emirates halted its fleet
- Acting foreign minister Simon Birmingham announced more repatriation flights
- The twenty new flights will be spaced out over the next few months
- Emirates has suspended all of its flights travelling to and from Australian cities
- Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane routes have been stopped ‘until further notice’
Acting foreign minister Simon Birmingham has confirmed 20 more repatriation flights will be organised for Australians stranded overseas after Emirates pulled the plug on its fleet flying into the east coast.
On Saturday the Liberal party member said the government had already organise 90 flights to assist those struggling to get home, bringing an estimated 446,000 people back to home soil.
But he is hoping a further 20 planes on the schedule will alleviate pressure for individuals and families trying to secure a seat on commercial airlines.
The additional people will be dispersed to the Howard Springs quarantine facility in the Northern Territory, Canberra and Tasmania, and will be in addition to the caps already in place for commercial travellers.
Acting foreign minister Simon Birmingham has confirmed 20 more repatriation flights will be organised for Australians stranded overseas after Emirates pulled the plug on its fleet flying into the east coast
But he is hoping a further 20 planes on the schedule will alleviate pressure for individuals and families trying to secure a seat on commercial airlines
‘These flights will fly from priority areas from around the world, making sure that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade off of their intelligence and knowledge of where Australians most need assistance, target those flights,’ he said.
The major international airline blamed ‘operational reasons’ for the sudden change of plans, which will be in effect from January 19.
There are still more than 37,000 Australians stranded overseas and desperate to return home.
Emirates has suspended all flights to and from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane ‘until further notice’
However Emirates will still be operating flights to and from Perth twice weekly.
The United Arab Emirates carrier was conducting daily flights between Dubai and Sydney and Melbourne as well as five flights per week to Brisbane.
Its last journeys from Dubai to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane will fly on Saturday, Monday and Tuesday, respectively.
Ticket-holders with later dates will not be able to fly, with Emirates advising they contact their travel agent or Emirates contact centre to re-book with other airlines.
The crushing development will see 19 flights per week for Australians in Europe and the Middle East wiped out, with some people already waiting months to get home.
Martha Walkowsky, who along with her husband Brian Fisher have been grounded in Dubai with their four-year-old twins, said the update was ‘devastating.’
A tweet (pictured above) confirmed speculation that Emirates was suspending flights to and from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane by Tuesday 19 January due to ‘operational reasons’
‘This is the closest we have ever been to getting home and we really thought it was going to work,’ she told the Sydney Morning Herald.
‘I feel like giving up almost every day but I can’t because we have two small children and we can’t show our despair to them.’
An Emirates spokesman apologised for ‘the inconvenience caused to our customers’ before adding they are ‘working hard to prepare for resumption of services to our other points’.
Last week international flight caps were reduced by 50 per cent in three states – New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia – until February 15 due to the threat of a new highly transmissible ‘mutant’ strain of COVID-19 from the UK.
Passengers on all incoming international flights now need to be tested for the new strain of coronavirus before boarding flights.
A subsequent 14-day quarantine upon arrival in Australia is also now mandatory.