Repatriation flight returns with 300 passengers

Close to 300 passengers flew into Samoa on Friday from Auckland, New Zealand in one of five remaining repatriation flights for the year.

The Air New Zealand Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner touched down at the Faleolo International Airport at 3.11pm bringing close to 300 citizens and residents.

According to airport staff, the passengers were bundled into buses and vehicles and taken to several locations to start their 14-day mandatory quarantine, after disembarking from the aircraft and clearing immigration and customs.

Face-mask wearing Ministry of Health [M.O.H.] staff as well as Police officers moved the passengers to the waiting transport to be taken to their quarantine sites which also include hotels and private residences.

Family members of the arriving passengers also made their way to the airport, hoping to catch a glimpse of their loved ones before they went into quarantine .

Early last month the Government advised that there are four more repatriation flights to Samoa before the year ended, including a charter for citizens living in Europe and the United States.

The charter flight on Friday means there are three flights remaining between Auckland and Apia: 13 November, 4 December and 11 December. The fourth flight on 27 November will fly from Los Angeles, bringing citizens and residents stranded in Hawaii, Los Angeles and North and South America.

The Government, in a statement released last month, said an additional 76 people registered for the charter flight from Los Angeles but they could not secure seats on the Air New Zealand aircraft.

Expressing optimism that stranded citizens and residents currently stranded abroad will be brought home, the Government advised that it aims to do that before Christmas.

Returning citizens are only allowed to travel back if they have a negative COVID-19 test result within three days of their travel in hard copy format, and a signed medical report from a health professional.

Children and elderly people with additional needs should be accompanied by an adult.

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