Fijians return home
Fijian nationals, who had been stranded in Samoa, finally had the opportunity to leave on a specially-arranged Fiji Airways flight on Wednesday afternoon.
The special supplementary Nadi-Apia and Apia-Nadi flights were held on Wednesday 25 March to allow citizens of both countries to return home before Samoa's border was completely closed on Wednesday under state of emergency orders.
According to one of the Fijian nationals thankful to finally return home, Jovesa Senimoli, he said that he first waited through two flight cancellations.
“I came to Samoa on the 25th of February for work related reasons,” he said.
He is a staff member at the University of the South Pacific based in Suva, Fiji.
“I was scheduled to leave last week Wednesday but it was canceled," he said.
“And then I booked for last Sunday and again it was also cancelled.
“I am very grateful to have the opportunity to leave Samoa and return home safely.”
The father-of-two said that, as a parent, one of the main reasons he wanted to return is for the sake of his family.
“It is a great feeling that I will go home and be reunited with my children and families," he said.
“But I know that the reason behind flight cancellations was safety reasons related to the coronavirus which I fully understand.
“It is important for countries to protect their own people from this virus that has already claimed so many lives.”
Another on the flight, Monesh Kumar, was eager to return to his worried parents.
“I also came for work-related reasons and this was my last chance to leave the country," he said.
“If there was no flight, we would have been stuck here longer with Samoa closing its borders.
“I have been in Samoa for two weeks and I fully agree with Samoa’s preventative measures with closing its borders because they want to protect the lives of their people from the [coronavirus].”
According to a statement from the Fiji Airways Manager of Public Relations, Angeline Lal on Tuesday afternoon, only Fijian citizens, Fijian residents, United Nations and European Union work permit holders, and holders of diplomatic passports will be on board.