Repatriation flight postponed
More than a hundred fifty Samoans in New Zealand who were scheduled to come home on Friday will have to wait another week before they can do so.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed that a Friday 22 May 2020 flight out of New Zealand to Samoa is still operational but as a cargo-flight only.
According to an email circulated for Samoans seeking a seat on one of the repatriation flights out of New Zealand, the first flight with passengers has been pushed back to 29 May 2020.
This is to allow all Samoan nationals and residents to fulfil the entry requirements for Samoa, the email says.
These requirements include a negative COVID-19 test and a medical report done within three days before arrival.
"The flight on May 22nd is still operating as scheduled but as a cargo flight," the M.F.A.T. statement reads.
"The Government in collaboration with the Government of New Zealand and Air New Zealand will begin repatriation flights out of Auckland for Samoan nationals and residents on Friday 29 May and thereafter on June 12 and 26th as well as July 9th and 23rd."
More than 1000 Samoans are seeking their way home, the statement revealed.
Included in the list are seasonal workers who have completed work contracts, sports teams, public servants, international staff who work in Samoa as well as families and individuals that were visiting friends and family.
Those given priority are those who had paid and confirmed tickets to Samoa before the border lockdown plus those who have exceeded their permits of stay in New Zealand.
"Further flights will be arranged until all those stranded abroad are brought home. Connecting flights from other parts of the world through NZ will be subject to the lifting of border restrictions of the countries concerned," the statement reads.
"Beyond New Zealand, there are indications of nationals in the USA, UK and other European cities as well as in Japan, the Republic of Korea and other Asian cities and also in our Pacific neighbouring countries."
Every passenger will be put through a mandatory 14-day quarantine at designated locations. Failure to comply with the travel restrictions may attract a fine of up to $2,000.
The release also stated that cargo flights have been coming in weekly since April 24, with more discussions underway for the operation of a similar weekly cargo-only flight with Fiji Airways for home essentials and medical supplies.