No changes to passengers on repatriation flights

The December repatriation flight passenger lists have not changed, Air New Zealand confirmed on Monday.

In the wake of COVID-19 case confusion after arrivals from Italy and Australia tested positive for the coronavirus last week, a flight direct from Los Angeles was postponed indefinitely and 290 tickets put on hold.

In an email, Air New Zealand said Samoa provides the airline with an approved passenger list for each flight, and that the lists for Friday 04 December and Monday 7 December have not changed.

The two flights are the last for the year from New Zealand, with capacity for 300 passengers each. 

It is understood people are travelling from around the world to get to Auckland before their Apia flight.

Two flights from Fiji have also been scheduled for Tuesday 09 and Wednesday 9 December. 

“Air New Zealand continues to work with the Samoan government to ensure only passengers who have received Government approval to travel on repatriation flights are returned home to Samoa,” Country Manager Karen Gatt said. 

“The Samoan Government is working on plans to bring customers who were scheduled to travel on 27 November home.”

Interim Chair of the National Emergency Operation Centre Agafili Shem Leo said a decision will be made by the end of the day on whether people from high-risk locations will be taken off the flight. 

“The priority now is for our people who are in New Zealand, and scholarship students who have finished their degrees in Australia,” he said.

According to Samoa Shipping Services General Manager Lautimuia Afoa Vaai, 111 sailors are booked to return on the two December flights, traveling to Auckland from destinations in the Northern Hemisphere where they have been working on cruise and container ships. 

Another 146 sailors were meant to return last Friday on the now-postponed Los Angeles flight. 

Several passengers waiting to come home are The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints missionaries posted abroad. It is not yet known exactly how many.

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