Three Air New Zealand flights will bring New Zealanders home from India over the next week, Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters has announced.
“On 19 March, we advised New Zealanders around the world that the window was closing for them to return home and that they should consider getting back to New Zealand immediately.
“India’s 25 March lockdown has recently been extended to 3 May, leaving New Zealanders with no commercial flight options to depart the country. The decision to charter flights at huge expense was not taken lightly, but the New Zealand Government is seriously committed to assisting New Zealanders to return home where all other options have been exhausted.
“Our first flight will leave New Delhi on 24 April, arriving in Auckland on 25 April. A second flight will depart Mumbai on Monday, 27 April, arriving in Auckland on 28 April,” said Mr Peters.
A third flight is still being finalised but is expected to depart New Delhi on Thursday, 30 April. New Delhi and Mumbai have been chosen as departure points because the vast majority of New Zealanders in India are located near these centres.
“We are conscious that there are significant numbers of New Zealanders currently in India who are stranded a long way from New Delhi and Mumbai, especially in southern and eastern India. We are looking into flight options for them, including with partners, from Chennai and Kolkata,” said Mr Peters.
MFAT will continue to provide consular assistance to any New Zealanders who cannot take these flights.
“This has been an extraordinarily complex operation. Nearly 1300 registered an interest in the flight, spread out across the country. This included a large number of non-eligible people, which added an additional layer of complexity as MFAT worked with relevant agencies to ensure that only those who would be allowed back into the country were permitted on to the flights,” said Mr Peters.
The Air New Zealand flights will fly directly from India to New Zealand, without stops, avoiding any additional difficulties around transit for New Zealanders returning home.
The decision to use Air New Zealand for flights helps meets the New Zealand government’s strict health and safety standards, and ensure that the public health of New Zealanders is maintained both on the flight and when a charter flight arrives back in New Zealand.
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