The government once again exhibits an elitist approach on border management and immigration by allowing charter flights bringing Kiwi-cricketers whereas sitting quiet on similar request for charter flights to bring ordinary Kiwi citizens back home.

In recent past the government has taken many such decisions where super rich people with deep pockets have been prioritised to enter New Zealand over ordinary citizens, residents and temporary visa holders.  

The government’s decision to allow private charter flight for cricketers playing in India’s cash-rich Indian Premier League (IPL) for returning home whereas not allowing such privately operated charter flights to bring ordinary Kiwi citizens exhibits government’s overall elitist approach on border management and immigration.

A spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) has told the Indian Weekender that the government was not arranging the charter flight bringing Kiwi cricketers back home.

The spokesperson was responding to the Indian Weekender’s query following the announcement of such charter flight this morning to bring Kiwi cricketers.

“We acknowledge how difficult the situation in India is right now, and the unfolding health crisis they are dealing with.

“We understand that a number of New Zealand cricket players who are in India have arranged a private charter flight out of India and have secured spaces in MIQ for their arrival in New Zealand using the usual processes. This charter flight is not being arranged by the New Zealand government. Any questions about the cricketers’ travel arrangements are best answered by New Zealand Cricket.

“They are following the standard requirements of anyone entering New Zealand from overseas. They have not requested or received assistance from the New Zealand Government,” the spokesperson said.

“How can cricketers get MIQ space available just in one day while ordinary citizens not only stranded in Covid-ravaged India, but anywhere else in the world cannot afford to find place for months,” asks an exasperated husband who was on a mission to “fetch his partner” speaking on the condition of anonymity.

Similarly Kiwi-Indian citizens who are currently stranded in India and desperately trying to return home are finding it appalling that the government could allow charter flights for cricketers who were not on national service and playing for personal gains in India’s cash rich IPL while denying them their fundamental right to return home.

Govt “has not arranged,” but has approved charter flights for cricketers asks many exasperated stranded citizens.

The government not arranged but certainly approved the request for a private charter flight, when simultaneously not approving similar such requests by New Zealand based private travel & tour operator to run such charter flight to bring home ordinary Kiwi citizens currently stranded in India.

One such travel operator Sehion Travels who have previously operated two such repatriation charter flights in a safe and Covid appropriate manner had his request for running a charter flight pending with the government since the end of February.

“We have been trying to get approval from the government to operate a direct charter flight right from the month of January to when the flight ban was announced on April 28,” Sijo Abraham of Sehion Travels said.

“Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to get approval from the government despite a proven track record of bringing travellers home in a Covid safe manner,” Sijo said.

“Currently we are in close touch with around 150 Kiwis stranded in India who are desperate to travel back home. Many of them have non Covid health conditions and they need certainty to return home,” Sijo said.

The Indian Weekender had sent enquiries to the office of Minister of Transport (under which department of Civil Aviation operates) about more information on charter flights from India - one organised by cricketers and which is approved - and the one requested by private travel operators to bring ordinary citizens home and had yet not been approved.

A response was awaited at the time of publishing of this story.

For now there is despondency within ordinary Kiwis stranded in India from the government’s selected decision on allowing charter flights for cricketers, and denying them the right to return home.